THE Court of Appeal yesterday threw out the 2009 corruption conviction of Senior Superintendent Harry 'Bungles' Daley, driving the tough crimefighter to tears and into the embrace of his attorney.
Daley, decked in a blue pinstriped suit, started sobbing immediately after Court of Appeal President Justice Seymour Panton announced the decision, dismissing the conviction and replacing it with a verdict of acquittal. He hung his head and wiped the tears with one of his fingers.
As the three judges — justices Panton, Mahaved Dukharan and Norma McIntosh — left the courtroom the senior policeman rushed over to his lead attorney, Valerie Neita-Robertson, and, with tears now flowing freely, fell into her arms as the two embraced each other and just stood there a while.
"Dem wicked," Daley cried, as he sat heavily in the spectators' bench, his eyes now red.
Neita-Robertson smiled broadly as she took a seat beside Daley; so too did Deborah Martin who appeared along with her.
"Dem wicked. Dem know me no involve in anything," Daley said, his words trailing off. He removed a red handkerchief from a pocket and dabbed at his eyes. "A no easy thing me go through for four-and-half-years."
The appellate court ruled in Daley's favour after finding that he didn't receive a fair trial.
Daley was convicted by Senior Magistrate Judith Pusey in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court in December 2009 and sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment at hard labour. His bail was, however, extended after his legal team gave verbal notice of appeal.
The senior crimefighter had been convicted on allegations that he had, since 2007, been collecting money monthly from businessman Tafari Clarke in return for protection of a plaza in Ewarton, St Catherine, which Clarke's relatives operated. Daley's defence was that he was merely collecting money owed to him by Clarke's uncle.
During the trial, Daley testified that the police had raided his home, in his absence, and took a number of documents, some of which included the loan agreement for which the payment had been made.
Lay magistrate William Morgan also testified to the loan agreement on which he had advised the men. He had testified that he never knew Daley before Leonard Miller brought him to his house on a Sunday in 2003, where the agreement was signed. Another justice of the peace had also testified about the legitimacy of the payment to Daley.
As part of their investigation, the police had filmed Daley taking money from Clarke. Clarke was also fitted with a recording device but this captured nothing incriminating.
It had been borne out during the criminal trial that Clarke had lied in a application for asylum in the United Kingdom. He had said that his life had been threatened in a matter unrelated to the Daley case.
As part of the appeal, Daley's legal team argued that the prosecution had breached the principle of disclosure by withholding documents that could have resulted in an acquittal. The prosecution had admitted during the appeal that Daley's house was searched by the police in his absence.
Yesterday, in its written ruling, the Appeal Court was caustic about the police's behaviour in the matter and RM Pusey's ruling.
"We found it strange that the learned senior resident magistrate rejected the evidence of both justices of the peace and accepted that of Tafari Clarke, a proven teller of false tales," read a section of the judgement.
The court said that the guilty verdict was "unreasonable in that the evidence of Tafari Clarke ought not to have been accepted..." The court found, too, that the police's unfair treatment of Daley had hampered his defence.
Later, at the offices of his attorneys, Daley's tears had dried and he was busy fielding calls from well-wishers, while a colleague of his was busy on his cellphone relaying news of Daley's acquittal.
"I'm happy," Daley told the Jamaica Observer, "because I've been through hell and I'm back".