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Bigga Ford testifies at Braeton inquest

CLAUDIENNE EDWARDS Observer staff reporter

Monday, June 24, 2002    

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DETECTIVE Deputy Superintendent Cornwall "Bigga" Ford, who was in charge of the Braeton crime scene during last year's controversial killing of seven youth by the police, conceded on Thursday that it would be wrong for a policeman involved in a shooting incident to collect the spent shells for investigators.

That would be contaminating the evidence or tampering with a crime scene, Ford said. But at Braeton, he told the coroners inquest into the killings, it was his men who collected the shells.

Ford, who is in charge of St Catherine Division South, testified that when he arrived at 6:45 am at 1088 Fifth Seal Way at 6:45 am on March 14 last year he spoke with Senior Superintendent Adams, head of the Crime Management Unit, and Superintendent Harry Daley who headed the operation.

He took charge of the crime scene and Adams and Daley knew he was in charge, he testified.

"When I arrived I took charge of the crime scene. I selected a number of persons and instructed them to look for things of evidential value," Ford said.

He testified that his men found and handed over to him several spent M16 and 9 mm spent casings (shells) inside the house but did not find any live M16 bullets inside the house.

Ford, in reply to a question from coroner Lorna Errar-Gayle, said that it would be wrong for another officer to give orders after he arrived on the crime scene.

"All senior officers know, have been trained, that if they are intimately involved in any type of shooting incident it is a breach to individually remove any casings from the scene of crime. Only the investigator is permitted to remove them," Ford testified.

Attorney Richard Rowe, representing the estate of Tamayo Wilson, one of the seven youngsters killed during what the police insist was a gunfight, submitted: "It would be a breach if the person involved picks them up (shells) and hands them to the investigator. It would be contamination."

Ford replied, "It would be considered contamination. It would be tampering."

Earlier in the inquest Senior Superintendent Adams who headed the operation at Braeton was heard on an unedited CVM Television tape instructing his men to pick up spent shells.

Superintendent Dormah Harrison, in charge of St Catherine South, who gave evidence in March, under cross examination also told that it would have been contamination of the crime scene for persons to cause spent shells to be picked up before the arrival of Scenes of Crime personnel.

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