Vincentian serving in British Army  found  not guilty
From the Courts, Front Page
January 31, 2023

Vincentian serving in British Army found not guilty

A Vincentian serving in the British Army has been found not guilty of attempted murder and wounding after the court upheld a no-case submission made by his lawyer.
And this now paves the way for him to return to the Army.

Keri Phillips had been charged with shooting Istah Mack four times about his body on December 26, 2021 at Chester Cottage.

Last Thursday, January 26, 2023, High Court judge Brian Cottle agreed with defence attorney, Duane Daniel that it would be unsafe to put the matter before the jury. Daniel had cited the many inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case.

According to the facts, sometime between 8:30 p.m and 8:45 p.m on December 26, 2021, Istah Mack was shot by a masked man while he was leaning against a wall next to a public road at Chester Cottage.

Istah did not see the shooter and was rushed to the hospital, where he gave the police names of three possible suspects. He based his suspicions on a previous incident, when he was shot in 2017 and there was no arrest.

He told the police that he believed that the persons who had shot at him in 2017 were responsible for the 2021 incident.

Istah’s uncle, Cyprian Mack, gave evidence during the Preliminary Inquiry that he had been sleeping and was awakened by the gunshots. He said he saw someone who was wearing a hoodie and a pair of black pants shoot at his nephew. He also said that the gunman seemed to drop something, turned around to pick it up, and it was at that point that the gunman pulled down his green mask and he saw his face.

Cyprian Mack claimed he shouted ‘Aye, ah see you!’ to the masked man, who then fled the scene.

A 16-year-old student of the Georgetown Secondary School, who said that he was 10 feet away from Cyprian Mack also saw the masked man but said the masked man wore a black ski mask.

The boy did not say that the gun man dropped anything or that he pulled down the mask.

The schoolboy also claimed that as the shots were ringing out Cyprian Mack ran into his house and closed the door behind him.

In November, 2022, two months before the start of the trial, Cyprian Mack was killed. He was found lying in his yard with a gunshot wound to his head.

However, the prosecution, led by Rose-Ann Richardson successfully applied to have the evidence Cyprian Mack gave at the Preliminary Inquiry read into evidence before the jury.

Under cross-examination, Istah Mack, the man who was shot, admitted that he named two suspects, one of whom was Keri Phillips, in his first statement to police on December 28, 2021.

However, when he spoke to police at the hospital on the night that he was shot (December 26), he named three men, including Phillips, as suspects.

Also, he claimed, contrary to his written statement to the police, that he first spoke with his uncle on December 27, 2021 when he was discharged from hospital, while it was actually on the evening of December 28, 2021 that he spoke to his uncle.

He said that he spoke to his uncle during the evening of December 28, 2021 following which he gave his statement to the police that same night.

Under cross examination he could not find an explanation for why he named two suspects if his uncle claimed to have seen and identified who shot him, if this was after he had spoken to his uncle.

Defence counsel, Daniel put to Istah Mack that he did not know who shot him, nor did his uncle, because if he did, he would have told the police what his uncle said.

In response, Istah said of Phillips and his friends “all of them are one”.

Under cross examination, investigating officer, Corporal Stay, indicated that, Cyprian Mack gave a statement to the police on December 29, 2021, indicating that he spoke with his nephew on December 27, 2021 and told him it was Phillips who shot him.

The investigator also said there was a child of primary school age who was interviewed who said the gunman had on a mask with holes cut out for the eyes and mouth.

On January 20, 2023 at the High Court, defence counsel Duane Daniel made a no case submission citing the many inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case.

Daniel, in his submission said in addition to the fact that the accused was prejudiced by not being able to cross-examine the dead Cyprian Mack, the only person to name Phillips, Cyprian’s evidence was contradicted by the other witnesses, and as such it was unsafe to put it before the jury.

In upholding the no case submission, Justice Cottle agreed that it would be unsafe to put the matter before the jury, and that he was directing the jury to return a formal verdict of ‘Not Guilty’.

Keri Phillips is to return to service in the British Army.