Gun conviction quashed by appeal court

| 29/08/2018 | 29 Comments
Michael Fernandez Jefferson, Cayman News Service

Michael Jefferson

(CNS): Michael Fernandez Jefferson (25) walked away from court and jail on Wednesday, having served more than twelve months for possession of an unlicensed firearm, after the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal overturned the conviction.

Jefferson, who was working as an auto-mechanic when he was found guilty of having the unlicensed gun, argued successfully that his conviction was not safe. The panel of judges did not detail the reasons for quashing the conviction, indicating that they would do so in writing, but implied that the decision largely rested on the judge’s decision to allow evidence to go before the jury that should not have been admitted.

While prosecutors argued for, and secured, the possibility of a retrial in the case, they failed to hold Jefferson on remand, and after allowing the appeal, the president of the appeal court, Sir John Goldring, told Jefferson he was free to go.

Jefferson was convicted in July last year after police executed a search warrant at his home and found a .38 automatic pistol under a bed wrapped in tissue in a ziplock bag, along with two live cartridges.

His attorney, Phil Rule, had presented several grounds of appeal for his client, including that the gun was not operational because there was a missing firing pin. He also argued that evidence given by a police officer, who alleged that Jefferson had made a confession, should not have been admitted because it was not recorded in the officer’s notes at the time or even mentioned by him to colleagues until the following day.

Rule also argued that the trial judge, in his summing up for the jury, had shown a bias towards the crown’s case by dismissing the officer’s failings and suggesting he could be given the benefit of the doubt, and that no proper direction was given to the jury regarding Jefferson’s relative good character.

The judges who heard the appeal said the basis for their decision would be outlined later in the current appeal court session, but they indicated that it was largely to do with the admission of the officer’s testimony, without any substantiating evidence, regarding Jefferson’s confession.

During the hearing the court suggested it was inconceivable that such an important piece of material evidence was never noted by the officer, who claimed to have forgotten about it until the following day.

It is now up to prosecutors to consider whether or not to re-try Jefferson, given that the confession evidence will not be admissible at any new trial. Arguing her case before the appeal panel, prosecutor Nicole Petite said there was other evidence for a court to consider.

According to the original case, there was no forensic evidence on the weapon linking it to Jefferson, and there was no indication that he had ever had possession of the missing firing pin or that the gun had ever been used in a crime.

The crown also failed to show that Jefferson had any criminal links, and his only previous convictions related to ganja. The gun was found under a bed in a room, which was not his room, within a house he shared with several of his family members and his girlfriend. The court also heard that several people had access to the property.

Tags: ,

Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (29)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    There are many such instances in this country of innocent persons being incorrectly charged and often convicted. The DPP’s office is at best trigger-happy and worst corrupt in many instances and needs to be purged. In their effort to maintain/create employment for themselves they have destroyed many lives. Incriminating innocent people creates criminals. This crop of prosecutors pay little attention of the guidelines set out in the UK Code for Prosecutors. It would be good to call on the AG to have an independent audit of charges brought and cases prosecuted, but that will never happen for many reasons, . Some further food for thought, there are innocent persons without contacts who suffer like this young man did and other persons who commit crimes and are protected by persons within the DPP’s office.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I was at his celebration party. Drugs and Alchohol and everything else. He hasnt learned a damn thing.

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  3. Say it like it is says:

    As usual, Caymanian hearts bleed for one of their own, what does “relative” good character mean?. As for the police the irony here is yet again they are guilty of obstruction of justice.

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  4. Go light your candle Michael says:

    Congratulations Michael!!!

    To 30/08/2018 at 8:30 AM. Michael is employable, he has a trade.

    Michael, we always saw goodness in you. Go now and light your candle.

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  5. Michel says:

    We are very happy for Michael. No evidence and negligence of the officer. Now Michael all the best to you. A hard learned lesson. Welcome back. Justice has been served

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  6. Anonymous says:

    From day one I felt this case was rubbish. How can something as important as a confession be “forgotten”? No DNA to convict him was found on the weapon… it was a shared property… the weapon was found under a bed, not HIS bed…this case had way too many holes from the jump. Michael, we grew up together, take this opportunity and turn your life around. Let this be your testimony. All the best to you and your family bro!

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    • Anon says:

      I hope this young man will now put his life on a track towards productive citizenship, and stay as far aways from friends who might draw him into trouble.

      Glad for him and his family — but make good of the opportunity and the clean slate.

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  7. William Pressor says:

    This is all BS. If the penalty for using a firearm in committing a crime was death, it would go a long way in getting rid of criminals.

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    • Anonymous says:

      William I wonder if you would still be in favour of the death penalty if you or a family member were convicted of such a crime. Remember that one does not have to be guilty to be convicted.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    What is clear from this appeal is not that this young man is innocent but that there were flaws in the process.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    hope his record is also cleared so he can get visa and more importantly, a Job!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, all out of jobs.

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    • Anonymous says:

      He had a job BEFORE being convicted and STILL has his job now that he is out!! Visa for what? Please explain.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Visa probably means a US visitors Entry Visa. The US has historically not liked to let people enter, even to visit, who have certain convictions, like for guns, even spear guns, on their record. And Caymanians have historically liked to go to America on our Visa.

  10. Peace n Love says:

    I can only imagine the happiness and joy he and his family feels. Wish him the best in continuing to progress and that his come back will be better than his set back. Keep the faith. Enjoy your freedom bro! Blessings.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Hopefully the retrial will ensure our gun laws are not undermined by technicalities run by those that protect criminal elements.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Disgraceful!! The firearm was found under the bed together with two live amunition! What more evidence do you need. Just because the weapon was inoperable due to the lack of the firing pin makes no difference. You can still be convicted if a wooden item is adapted to look like a gun and used in a robbery or any other criminal offence…….only in Cayman!

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    • Anonymous says:

      read carefully! “The gun was found under a bed in a room, which was not his room, within a house he shared with several of his family members and his girlfriend.” your reasoning says that everyone living in the house should be guilty.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Then whose gun was it? Why was the person whose bed it was under not in jail instead?

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        • Anonymous says:

          Good questions that need a Police INVESTIGATION to answer. Sadly in this case they seem to have just decided to fit someone up. Feels like UK Police in 1970s.

          Good luck to the bloke – I hope he gets himself sorted out

    • Anonymous says:

      Possession by law is to have custody and control, and a firearm by law is a weapon that can project a projectile that can cause either harm or death, so therefore this young man shouldn’t even have been charged in the first place, so please try and keep your ignorant comments to your self, or try and educate your self before commenting, because it really makes you sound dumb, oh your welcome BTW.

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  13. DSW says:

    Chalk one more up to the Keystone Cops! Great job fellows! Not!

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Great news!

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