Hung-jury in Lawton Forbes’ trial

By:St. Clair Sazam Hull

(CHARLESTWON NEVIS)-The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Nevis Circuit resumed its sitting on Thursday, December 3, 2015 before Her Ladyship Justice Lorraine Williams.

The matter before the court was that of Lawton Forbes, whose hearing was adjourned from Wednesday, November 18, 2015 to Thursday, December 3, 2015. Forbes was charged for armed robbery of Xpetrol Gas Station located at Camps Village on Friday, August 8, 2014. Prior to the adjournment, the court received evidence from a number of witnesses on both sides.

Defense lawyer for the accused, Mr. John Cato addressed the jury. He told the jurors that the Prosecution’s case was based solely on the evidence given by the main witness, who noted that she saw Lawton Forbes’ face. Cato indicated that based on the video footage that was shown in court, it was impossible for the witness to have recognized Forbes’ identity. He also pointed out, that she was the only person who claimed that she saw Forbes’ face on the night of the incident.

The lawyer stated to the jury, that the witness was either lying or she was mistaken. He continued, “I don’t want to believe that she was blatantly lying, when she said that she saw Lawton’s face on the night of the robbery. However, I do think that she was mistaken and took someone else for Lawton”. In conclusion, he urged the jurors to return a verdict of not guilty against the defendant.

In his address to the jury, Prosecutor, Dane Hamilton QC pointed out that the case was about recognition. He indicated that the cashier who was present, knew Lawton Forbes for a very long time because they went to school together. Hamilton pointed that if the witness didn’t recognize Forbes’ face, there would have been no need to tell the Police to go and look for the accused after they visited the establishment. Hamilton also spoke about the video footage that was shown in court.

He told the jury that the camera was pointing from top to bottom and the angle made it difficult to comprehend what she was talking about when she said she saw his face. However, that should not lead you to believe that she did not see his face Hamilton indicated. He told the jury that they should return a guilty verdict, and they must not allow such an occurrence to go by without justice being served.

In summing-up the case, Her Ladyship told the jury that they ought to weigh the evidence on both sides, but they should only return a guilty verdict based on the strength of the Prosecution’s case. She pointed out, that the accused had nothing to prove and was entirely innocent in the trial. She stated that if the Prosecution did not make them feel sure, they must rule in favour of the defendant. Her Ladyship also warned the jury, to be careful when examining the evidence that was given by the witnesses. She indicated that evidence may have discrepancies and inconsistencies, but witnesses can give evidence in different wording. She told the jury when that happens; they must consider the witness’ intelligence.

Her Ladyship also told the jury about the evidence given by the accused. She pointed out, that Forbes said he was by his girlfriend when the incident happened. However, she told them that even if they believe that Forbes was lying about his whereabouts, it doesn’t mean that he robbed the gas station. She stated that they should be mindful of that, because it was the job of the Prosecution to prove the defendant’s whereabouts. In conclusion, Her Ladyship stated that they must aim to arrive at a unanimous decision.

The jury deliberated for just over two hours and arrived at a 9-3 Hung-jury. Nine jurors believed that the accused was guilty as charged and three believed that he was innocent of the charge.

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