Judge throws out robbery case over missing ID

| 29/09/2015 | 25 Comments
Cayman News Service

Scene of the mugging in Camana Way, 9 May 2015

(CNS): The failure of the police to carry out an identification parade, photo spread or any other formal ID process to enable a victim to identify, or not, a suspect in a street robbery has cost the crown another criminal case. A judge told a 17-year-old boy from West Bay on Tuesday that he was “very fortunate” to be walking out of court after he dismissed the case against him for lack of evidence. Justice Charles Quin agreed to a no case submission made by defence attorney John Furniss and threw out robbery charges against the teenager, pointing to an opportunity missed by police to secure evidence against the young man.  

On the night of the robbery, when another teenager from George Town was robbed of $4 during a street mugging perpetrated by two teens armed with a machete, the police had considered the case of significant seriousness. At least five specialist units were dispatched to respond to the report of the machete mugging at around 11pm on 9 May. The police helicopter, two armed support vans, the K-9 unit, officers from the marine base and regular patrol vehicles were all sent to the area near Camana Way and West Bay Road, where the crime took place.

From the descriptions given by the victim, the police spotted four likely suspects not far from the scene shortly after he reported his ordeal. The teenage victim had revealed that the two men who robbed him had been in a group of four when they had first walked by him but just two turned back and approached him, demanding money.

All four of the boys ran off when approached by the police but two of them were caught and arrested. Both those boys, including the defendant, were present at the police station at the same time as the victim who was giving his statement.

The teen victim gave descriptions of his robbers to the police and said he did not know his assailants. While he had given a fairly good description of the main robber, he gave a very different description of the clothes worn by the ‘supporting robber’ to police from those worn by the young suspect who was eventually charged.

The court also heard that no formal ID was ever undertaken, despite, as the judge noted in his ruling, the “ideal opportunity” for one to have taken place on the night of the robbery when both the defendant and the victim were at the police station.

But with no identification to support the claim that the defendant was, as the crown claimed, the second mugger, the judge was forced to throw out the case, even though the teen defendant had admitted to being near to the incident that appeared to involve young men he knew.

In setting out his decision to stop the trial following the close of the crown’s limited case, the judge said that when the defendant was arrested the police found no machete, there were no fingerprints and the victim admitted that he did not get a good look at the second man. The defendant had persistently denied any involvement and the police had not sought to get an identification, presenting what the crown’s lawyer had admitted were “difficulties” for the case.

The judge said the evidence was too vague and intrinsically weak, and there was nothing to suggest the teen defendant had done anything to encourage the robbery. With no crucial eye-witness identification, the judge said there was insufficient evidence to support a guilty verdict based on the charge.

Despite his findings, the judge warned the young man to stay away from criminals.

“You have been very fortunate this morning not to have been found guilty,” he said, as he pointed to the weakness in the evidence even though it was clear the young man was at the scene and had not assisted the police in finding the others involved.

Since the West Bay teen and a second young man were arrested on the night in question, a third youngster, who was just 14 at the time, was arrested and has since pleaded guilty to robbery. The other teenager arrested on the night of the street robbery was never charged and the fourth boy who was also said to be with the two robbers has never been located.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (25)

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  1. Fed Up with RCIPS says:

    The Courts need to start fining Police for incompetence and inadequate preparation. They should be held in contempt, jailed or fined for failing to produce sufficient evidence or to act on potential leads. Just as a defence lawyer can be reprimanded or disbarred for failing to defend their clients ‘vigorously’ and ‘diligently’, the RCIPS should be held to the same standards.

    Too many cases are being thrown out because of malarkey by the RCIPS, which needs to STOP NOW.

  2. Anonymous says:

    RCIPS and DPP at it again. Any 1st year post grad law student knows this is a basic requirement for theft/robbery cases. How did the DPP make the decision to proceed with this case? Complete waste of their time and the public purse. Yet, they have cases with much more merit that they “decide” won’t be taken before a judge. At what point is enough enough with this bunch and heads start to roll?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Why don’t they get these people to testify against each other in exchange for a shorter sentence? What happened to the “main robber”?

  4. Anonymous says:

    I would suggest that The RCIP training include watching a few seasons of Law & Order so they can get some of the basics of police procedure.

    • SSM345 says:

      The First 48, CSI, True Detective, Sherlock Holmes and World’s Wildest Police Videos should be mandatory material to be viewed when completing their training.

  5. SAM says:

    OKAYMan! Everything goes here.

  6. Jason Bourne says:

    Stop blaming Baines he is only doing what he is told by the UK & FCO Which is Get paid! Spend all of their money$$$$ deplete their economy, play along and let the natives police themselves but take very good care of our own and meet our objectives of maintaining control by the threats of increased Crime and what will happen if you seek independence, keep importing outsiders from country who have it in order to dilute confuse disrupt any kind of cohesion by the native population. There it is our policing strategy for the Cayman Islands. Oh when they figure it out abandon post immediately! we will replace you with exact clone, seek another rewarding OT to go to or come home get an award or retire and return to be con sultant or advisor for FCO. Life is Good in Foreign Service

    • Anonymous says:

      Methinks you smoking something that makes you paranoid. UK would rather be rid of Cayman, but not unless the majority of people vote for it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The Judge was completely wrong to describe him as “fortunate”. The use of that word is utterly contrary to the presumption of innocence. What happened was that he was rightly acquitted as there was no evidence whatsoever of his involvement in the crime. He should never have been prosecuted in the first place.

    The criticisms of the police are well founded. But why did the DPP not realise this? You don’t have to be a QC to know that you need evidence of involvement in the crime to secure a conviction!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Baines does a good job of patting himself on the back for the 1 in 50 cases he manages to solve, guess this won’t be one of them, useless bunch

  9. Anonymous says:

    What a bunch of incompetent clowns! – Seriously, if they can’t get something like this right what hope have we got?!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Another “brilliant” performance by Baines’ Keystone Cops!! Disgusting!!

  11. SSM345 says:

    Sweet Baby Jesus, incompetence strikes again!

  12. Cheese Face says:

    Well that was predictable.

  13. Busta Brown says:

    Wow the response was overwhelming by the RCIPS on this one must be the location? Some folks can’t even get them to response to home invasions with one vehicle. What a Countreee!! aaaah boy what a real mess the UK got this little place in with their Bull$@%# policing. Not carrying out basic police procedures and all that money we are spending on their enormous budget.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you will find it is not the UK causing the mess, the criminals are home grown, they are causing the mess. The police not being effective is another issue.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Another case without evidence… the RCIPS and DPP can continue wasting our resources without consequences!

  15. Anonymous says:

    The costs of these proceedings inclusive of the helicopter, K9 unit etc should be deducted from Baines salary. I am so tired of reading about failed prosecutions due to RCIPS incompetence and wasting of public money.

    • Cho King Often says:

      Including the helicopter and other resources brought to bear, plus the cost of the failed prosecution was probably $3000-$4000 or more total over a $4 offense. That surely makes for effective crime prevention, now doesn’t it? Keystone cops doesn’t begin to explain it.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Sad.

  17. Anonymous says:

    And the DPP didn’t see this as an issue before proceeding to trial???
    Can someone please tell me how this woman keeps her job????

  18. Anonymous says:

    what jokers the saddest place on earth the land time forgot just plain forgot

  19. Isaac says:

    Well well well….surprise surprise.

    Another feather in the hat of Baines and the Boys.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Keystone

  21. Anonymous says:

    You have to wonder, are certain police elements doing this deliberately or do I credit them with too much intelligence? However did the DPP ever agree to prosecute? Lodge connections somewhere? RCIPs will now be known as the police farce.

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