Judge refers ‘professional witness’ issue to DPP

THE integrity of the justice system is again facing the possibility of further erosion, in light of allegations that the police have used a so called “professional witness” in order to secure convictions.

Courtesy of The Jamaica Observer Director of Public Prosecutions

 Director of Public Prosecutions. Photo courtesy jamaicaobserver.com

The matter has been referred to Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn after the allegations were made recently by senior attorney Valerie Neita-Robertson, who also complained that she had since last year tried, but to no avail, to get information from the Office of the DPP on a previous case involving the said professional witness who is now deceased.

The person, according to Neita-Robertson, was used by the police to act as an eyewitness in situations where actual eyewitnesses do not come forward or in cases where there was no witness at all.

The issue came to the fore in the Home Circuit Court in the case of Omar Nicholson and his nephew Oniel, who are accused of murdering Detective Sergeant Desmond Carter during the robbery of a food establishment in Spanish Town, St Catherine, in 2006.

During the recent hearing, Neita-Robertson, who is representing Omar Nicholson, alleged in court that the late Dylan Millanaise — the witness being relied on by the prosecution — was a “professional witness”.

She said that Millanaise had been the main witness in more than one murder case — including the murder of a policeman in Clarendon — and requested the prosecution disclose to the defence Millanaise’s statement in that case.

Courtesy of The Jamaica Observer Neita-Robertson professional witness used in more than one murder case

Neita-Robertson professional witness used in more than one murder case. Photo courtesy jamaicaobserver.com

The attorney complained to the court that she had previously sent letters to the prosecution requesting this and other information regarding Millanaise. She also presented a similar letter to the prosecution on Friday.

The case has been before the Circuit Court since 2007.

Following the airing of Neita-Robertson’s concerns, Justice Gloria Smith said that the director of public prosecutions will have to make a decision on the “next step” in light of the fact that the main witness is dead, in addition to theallegations being made by the defense.

The men’s bails were extended until October 4, when the case will again be mentioned.

Following the adjournment of the case, Neita-Robertson showed the Jamaica Observer copies of letters she sent to the prosecution, complaining that there had been no response to her previous letters, dated July 31, August 31 and October 1, 2012, requesting disclosure.

“At this stage we are beyond disturbed as to the treatment of our client, Mr Nicholson,” she wrote in a letter dated January 31.

“If the Crown does not intend to fulfill its fair-trial obligations toward Mr Nicholson, or is unable to proceed any further with this matter, then we ask that, in the interest of justice, you formally discontinue this prosecution and allow Mr Nicholson to begin putting the pieces of his life together again,” the letter added.

Oniel Nicholson is represented by Robert Fletcher and Tamika Harris.

Article by Paul Henry, Coordinator — Crime/Court Desk