Crown’s witnesses attacked in violent feud trial

| 12/12/2017

(CNS): Defence attorneys representing Kashwayne Hewitt and Malik and Tashika Mothen, as they addressed the jury on behalf of their clients, said the evidence given by the crown’s two key witnesses was inconsistent and implausible. The defendants are accused of trying to kill Daniel Bennett and Carlney Campbell during a feud-fuelled violent incident outside Fete nightclub in February. In a short address, a fourth lawyer defending Daniella Tibbetts, who is charged with possession of a gun, told the jury that there was no evidence she knew that Hewitt hid the weapon in her toilet and so she could not be guilty.

Jacob Hallam QC, the UK-based attorney representing Malik Mothen, who is charged with attempted murder, possession of an unlicensed firearm, assault and threats to kill, told the jury that the only evidence suggesting Mothen had the gun, which Hewitt has admitted possessing, comes from Bennett. He said the jury could not rely on what the witness said because of a list of inaccuracies, inconsistencies and contradictions that did not make sense. He also pointed to Bennett’s rap sheet and the evidence from other witnesses, including the police, that he was very drunk and aggressive on the night in question.

Malik’s wife, Tashika Mothen, who is charged with attempted murder and assault, is being represented by Icah Peart QC, also from the UK, who spoke about the checkered history of the crown’s witnesses. He said they both have convictions for violent offences, and also pointed to Bennett’s inability to remember what happened when he gave evidence.

He described Campbell as a hit man, routinely armed with knives, and reminded the jury that he had served six years in jail for stabbing a man in the head at Treasure Island in what was believed to be a paid-for attack. Peart said Bennett could have called numerous other people to take him home that night, but instead he called Campbell.

He pointed out that Tashika Mothen had given evidence and that the jury heard about her life. He said that for more than a decade she had stayed out of trouble; she was a hard-working mother of four children. He dismissed the crown’s theory that she harboured ill will to Bennett because she was shot by his friend two years ago, pointing out that during the time since that shooting they had seen each other frequently and therefore had had ample opportunity to seek revenge, if that was what she had wanted.

Peart said the theory she was part of the violent attack on Campbell, which left him covered in blood, was undermined by the fact that there was no forensic evidence to support her involvement. He said the allegations she was part of the mob were made very late in the day by Campbell, who had originally said his attackers were all male.

He urged the jury to release her from “the nightmare” she had been living and not to fall for the speculation in the crown’s “poor case” against her.

Meanwhile, Hewitt, who is charged with attempted murder, has already pleaded guilty to possessing the gun that was used to shoot Bennett and Campbell. However, his lawyer said he did not fire the weapon at either of the men but had taken the gun from Mothen after he shot Campbell to stop him from killing him. Then, when he tried to return it, Mothen told him to keep the weapon, which was why he had it when the police came to the apartment where he was staying with Daniella Tibbetts.

Paul Hynes QC, another visiting lawyer from London, told the jury that Hewitt, his client, had arrived in Cayman on 26 December 2016 at 20 years old, and within weeks found himself making some very poor decisions. He told the jury that, given the circumstances, it was unlikely he was the type of person they would welcome in Cayman, but he urged them to put aside their prejudices because there was no evidence at all from anyone that Hewitt had ever fired the gun. He said his client may have been stupid but he was not part of the violent feud as the crown claimed and was not out with the Mothens that night.

Hynes argued there was no evidence to connect him to the actual shooting and assault because no witnesses have ever said he was handed the weapon or that he fired it, and it was based on speculation from the crown. He urged the jury to acquit Hewitt on the rest of the charges he faces, adding that he was already facing serious consequences for his admissions over the gun.

Local attorney Crister Brady, who is representing Daniella Tibbetts, delivered the shortest closing summary, arguing that there was no evidence his client knew that the gun was in her house.

“What’s in your toilet?” he asked the jury, as he pointed out that people do not often check their cisterns. “It’s not the kind of place you look unless you have a reason.”

Brady pointed out that although Hewitt was staying with Tibbetts, she was not there when the police found the weapon. He also questioned why Hewitt would go to such efforts to hide the gun in a toilet if Tibbetts knew about it, as she was the only other person living at the apartment at the time. He asked who else Hewitt would be hiding the gun from, as he urged the jury to acquit her. Brady said they could not convict on what they thought someone should have known; they had to be sure the person knew.

The crown’s case that Malik Mothen shot at Bennett before handing the gun to Hewitt and that Tashika Mothen had started the argument and joined in the assault on Campbell is based on evidence from the two victims and CCTV footage that shows Malik Mothen and Hewitt outside Fete just before and after, though not during, the shooting. Tibbetts is charged because the gun was found in her apartment and because she was believed to be with Hewitt on the night of the shooting.

The judge was scheduled to sum up the case Tuesday, before sending the jury to deliberate on the various charges against the four defendants.

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Category: Courts, Crime

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