Responding to questions from the defence about domestic abuse against her, Nicole John, wife of Cornelius John responded that her husband wouldn’t hold and just beat her up “like that”, and claimed that he had hit her “one time”.
Nicole was witness number four in the trial examining charges of criminal assault against Senator and Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, Ashelle Morgan; and wounding, unlawful discharge of a firearm against Assistant Deputy of Public Prosecutions(DPP) Karim Nelson.
She was called to give evidence about what transpired when her husband Cornelius John received a gunshot wound to his leg on April 13 at Diamond.
According to her evidence she went out with the Senator earlier that day, on a run visiting volcano emergency shelters. During this time, her husband began calling her. One time she put the phone on speaker so Morgan could hear what was being said and it turned out to be threatening words. She was dropped home while her husband argued outside her house (which was a separate building from his but opposite to where he was living).
She recalled that she later received calls from the Senator asking “what to do,” and whether the police had arrived, until the Senator called and informed her that she and the “DPP” were walking down. The wife said that she went into her porch which has a view of her husband’s residence when three persons including Morgan entered her husband’s yard, and spoke to her him. Soon after she said she heard a gun crank and go off. She told the court that the group then left. Her cousin reported back to her that Cornelius was shot, and Nicole alleged that she called Morgan to ask her if they shot him when Morgan asked “Really?” and claimed it was supposed to be a warning shot.
Counsel Duane Daniel represented Morgan in the case in which Cornelius John had alleged the Senator pointed a gun in his face and said if you call my “effing name I shoot you in the mouth”.
He cross examined Nicole last Monday morning, first focusing on the fact that she had chosen to move out of the matrimonial home on December 31, 2020. His case zeroed in on the credibility of Cornelius, who had made the accusation.
“Why did you move to that house Ma’am?” Daniel asked her, referring to the house in which she was living on April 13.
“I moved out just to be comfortable by myself because in a relationship there is conflict so I decided to be by myself,” she replied. When asked what relationship had conflict, she revealed that it was her marriage, that there had been a “misunderstanding”.
Cornelius was sitting in the courtroom observing, as he had with the other witnesses.
The wife was asked if she was the only one to move out, and she responded that she took their children with her.
“Isn’t it true that there was an incident between Mr John and your son?,” Daniel asked, and this was confirmed.
However, she said it wasn’t “exactly that” which had caused her to move out.
“That incident had any violence or physical attack involved in it?” the lawyer questioned, after confirming that it had been reported to the police.
The spouse explained that there was “an aggravation” between the both of them.
She responded that yes, it became physical.
Daniel also asked about threats supposedly made by her husband during the time she was with the Senator.
“While on speaker phone your husband threatened to chop off your neck?”, she was asked, and she said yes.
She accepted that he also said he would sacrifice her head and blood, and children to the devil.
Nicole said she didn’t begin to be scared after she received these calls, and that she didn’t tell the police that she was becoming afraid.
Her statement that she gave to the police on April 14, the day following these events, was produced for her to read in court.
She was directed to look for her signature, which she found, thereby identifying the statement as hers.
“And you agree that that statement was true and correct?” Daniel asked; she paused.
“Ms John?” the lawyer prompted, and she said, “It was never read over to me, so I don’t know what they put in the statement.”
However Daniel noted that she agrees she dictated it and signed it.
She was directed to and read a section of the statement, and she stated, “I disagree I never used those words.”
“So in spite of him threatening to chop off your neck, right? Sacrifice your head and blood to the devil, yes? To sacrifice your children, you didn’t begin getting scared?” Daniel questioned, and she said no.
“So you put it on speaker phone for Miss Morgan’s entertainment?” the lawyer said.
“I let she listen the conversation,” the wife stated.
Morgan’s lawyer also asked the witness if it wasn’t true that his client “advised you to report the matter to the police.”
Nicole said those weren’t her exact words.
Morgan’s exact words were said to be “it’s not a healthy situation and why I don’t get help…or get out of the marriage”, the wife submitted.
Daniel asked her if they didn’t already try to get help in the form of intervention from a Pastor Bascombe, but the wife said no.
However, when he asked, “Did Pastor Bascombe ever intervene because of your husband’s violent behaviour?”, the wife said that he came to talk to them as they were members of the church.
“And the concern was your abuse?” the lawyer questioned, and she said yes.
Daniel put to Nicole that this was because her husband was abusing her, but the wife said that she wouldn’t say abusive in “that term”.
“Is it fair to say that your relationship with your husband was a difficult one?” the lawyer asked, but the witness said no.
“So it was smooth sailing?” Daniel asked.
“It was not smooth sailing, but in every relationship there is conflict and misunderstanding so I decided to ride along with him,” Nicole answered.
She was asked if her husband was verbally abusive and she said yes, but maintained that he wasn’t emotionally or physically abusive.
The spouse was shown the part of the first statement to the police where she had outlined that he was all three types of abusive.
“I didn’t signify any one. I did not say physically, I did not name any one of it to them. All I said is abuse,” she explained.
Therefore, she was asked whether the police were lying.
“…He was writing he was writing and he never put it over to me to know what he put inside of the statement. That’s why I went back, asked to see the statement again, because he never read the document. I never see the statement till today,” she contended.
Daniel inquired whether her husband had ever beaten her.
“I wouldn’t say beat,” she responded.
The lawyer sought further understanding.
“I wouldn’t say he just hold me and just beat me up like that, he wouldn’t do that,” Nicole said.
“But he has hit you?” Daniel questioned, and she answered, “One time but not to say abuse me to get my skin ‘wail up’ or damage my skin or nothing like that. It was just like an argument…”
If her husband isn’t abusive, why did she report him for threats, it was asked.
Each of the defendants’ lawyers questioned this, and she told them, “It was my duty to make a report, anything else happen I did make a report then.”
Later, at a point in the cross examination Daniel focused on the conversation Nicole said she had with Morgan, wherein Morgan asked her what to do. He was classifying this as a call to check up on her, but Nicole did not agree.
“…Her phone call just had those words? ‘What to do’? Nothing more?” the counsel asked.
“Wasn’t the conversation about what to do because of the threats of your husband?” he also asked, and the witness replied that she would say yes it was.
Daniel asked if she and Morgan didn’t discuss about calling the police, but the wife responded, “No, never. She said to me she called the police.”
According to her Morgan never said why, but the wife acknowledged that she understood the police to be coming to speak to her husband about the threats.
It was put to her that she and Morgan had several phone conversations between the time the Senator dropped her home and the time she saw three persons going into the yard. The wife said this was correct, Morgan called her.
It was further put to her that in one of these calls she said her husband was outside with a cutlass making threats. The wife replied that she never said he had a cutlass.
While she made a report for threats the following day, the counsel also inquired whether she had visited her husband in the hospital on April 13, 14, and 15. The wife said she chose not to go.
“Did you go to see your husband on the 16th, in sickness and in health till death do you part?” Daniel asked.
“I did not go,” the spouse answered.
At the end of his lengthy cross-examination the counsel summed up several points of argument to the wife, including that she was the one to ask the Senator to call the police, that she was afraid of her husband to tell the whole truth, that she knew Morgan was coming down to speak to her husband to have him stop threatening to kill her, and that she still fears her husband.
The wife denied everything that was put to her.