From the Courts
October 14, 2011
Discrepancy discovered in police statement during trial

A decision should have been made yesterday regarding a discrepancy in police statements in a drug matter involving over 376 pounds of cannabis.{{more}}

Chief Magistrate Sonya Young was supposed to make a decision in the matter, after Lawyer Grant Connell, on Wednesday, October 12, drew to the court’s attention the fact that the original and photocopied statement of acting Station Sergeant Foster Scott did not correspond.

“The issue that has arisen is one of credibility that can’t be cured even if it goes to another court. This matter is already four years old, and I know there is going to be an objection to bail…,” Connell said.

Andy “Blacka” Bennett is charged with possession of cannabis, after a search warranted was executed at his Rillan Hill home on June 6, 2007. He pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Connell noted that there were similar discrepancies in the original and photocopied statements of another police officer, which Connell noted would also not help matters if the matter was transferred to another court.

The matter was stood down for five minutes, and when the court resumed, prosecutor Adolphus Delpesche said because of the matter that had surfaced, he held dialogue with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and it was his (The DPP’s) decision that the matter be transferred to another court for hearing.

In response, Chief Magistrate Young said she was not certain if she could simply transfer a matter. “I don’t know if I can just transfer the matter; something else must happen. I cannot simply stop a trial in the middle and transfer it,” Young said.

The Chief Magistrate noted that the discrepancy in the statements is an issue that goes strongly towards credibility. She also said that she needed some time to clarify certain things before making a decision.

Station Sergeant Scott testified that at about 5:45 a.m. on June 6, 2007, members of the Narcotics squad executed a search warrant at Bennett’s home in respect of controlled drugs.

Scott said he met the defendant at home, and on entering the ground floor of the house, he smelled the strong odor of cannabis. He said a yellow covered plastic bucket which contained three taped packages of cannabis was found next to one of the beds on the ground floor.

When cautioned, Bennett replied: “Officer, times hard; yuh cud gimme a break fo that.”

A further search conducted turned up a large package, which also contained cannabis between some boxes.

Scott said the search continued upstairs, and in one of the rooms there, two cardboard barrels were found. Each contained packages of cannabis. Checks were also made in the bathroom, and two white plastic buckets were discovered containing marijuana.

When cautioned again, Bennett replied: “Officer, that ah all me does do, plant weed; me grow them me self.”

In total, 27 packages were found.

Under cross-examination, Connell suggested that the police officers were on different raids earlier that night and placed the drugs on his client. Scott denied placing drugs at the accused’s home, but admitted that they went on other raids earlier that night.