(CNS): Representing himself before the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal Tuesday, trying to get his conviction for gun possession and wounding overturned, Leighton Rankin was sent back to HMP Northward to continue serving his 13-year term when his appeal was dismissed. Rankine had argued that there were several problems with his case, including the fact that neither his DNA nor fingerprints were on the weapon he was accused of firing, no gunshot residue was on him even though he was arrested in the immediate wake of the shooting and police failed to produced CCTV evidence that would have exonerated him.
Rankine was arrested following an altercation in the car park of Club 7, a nightclub on the West Bay Road, in February 2012 with two other men. Rankin had argued with one of them and, according to the witnesses, he then went to a car, picked up a gun and fired it at the men. One was shot in the arm but the men fought with Rankin and ended up kicking him in the head and knocking him unconscious.
Police arrived during the fight and they supported the complainant’s evidence that Rankin had a .38 revolver. But Rankine said he cannot recall what happened as he received a severe head injury and was unconscious for several days and woke to find himself in hospital. He said he remembers the earlier part of the evening and knows he was drinking but he did not bring a gun out with him.
He believed that if the police had gone to look at the CCTV footage from cameras in the area, they would have seen that he did not have the weapon. He claimed it was possible that he had wrestled it from one of the other two men, which was why he ended up holding it when the police arrived before he was kicked in the head and knocked out. But the police had revealed during the trial that the footage had never been viewed from the national cameras and it had been taped over, so no images could be retrieved.
Rankine said that his attorneys had not argued strongly enough about these issues or pressed for an expert who may have been able to access the footage and that the judge, who heard his case without a jury, did not properly consider the fact that there was no forensic evidence to link him to the gun.
But the appeal court said that his attorneys had raised these issues and there was not much more they could have done. They also said in the ruling that it was clear the judge had considered these issues and the lack of forensic evidence. But she also had eye-witness evidence from the complainant, the second man at the scene and the police evidence. The appeal court found that the judge in the case had given herself “impeccable directions”.
The judges said they did not feel the conviction was unsafe or unsatisfactory and dismissed Rankine’s appeal.