Another delay in trial of multiple murder accused

10th lawyer to tell court if he'll defend Michael McLean

Observer staff reporter

Friday, February 09, 2018

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Well-known defence attorney Christopher Townsend will today inform Justice Bertram Morrison — who is presiding over the murder trial of Michael McLean — whether he will or won't be representing the accused. If the answer is in the affirmative, Townsend will become the 10th attorney to have represented the accused.

The trial, which has faced several setbacks since it started a week ago, was yesterday adjourned after McLean refused to have further dialogue with his attorney, Carlton Collman, and called for Townsend to be his new attorney.

The accused has been representing himself since last Thursday after informing the court that he no longer wanted Collman to speak for him. Consequently, the lawyer wanted to withdraw from the matter but the judge told him that he would have to remain to provide McLean with legal guidance.

However yesterday, Collman renewed his request to withdraw from the matter while explaining that McLean no longer wished to speak to him and has also told him some derogatory words.

That resulted in the matter being adjourned for both parties to reconsider their position. Upon the resumption, McLean told the court that he wanted Townsend to appear and make a no-case submission for him. Justice Bertram acceded to McLean's wish and Townsend was summoned. When the attorney arrived, he expressed a willingness to represent the accused.

“I do believe I can assist the process. The accused deserves to have a counsel of his choice and I wish to aid him,” Townsend told the court.

However, he indicated that there was an “administrative hurdle that needs to be crossed” before he could definitively say that he is now McLean's lawyer and that by 2:30 pm today the situation should be settled.

McLean was then warned by Justice Morrison to ensure that Townsend is put in a position to announce to the court if he will be representing him, as the case will resume on Monday with or without an attorney.

“On Monday, after that no more adjournment,” the judge promised.

“If you intend to follow through, firm arrangements must be put in place following which the matter is going to continue with or without with you,” Justice Morrison also told Townsend.

“You are the tenth counsel in the matter and I have to be mindful that I have a jury that has remained idle for two days now and will be [idle] tomorrow as well,” he added.

In the meantime, the judge told Collman, who has been representing the accused since April 2016, that if Townsend is confirmed he will be allowed to withdraw.

McLean is being tried for the murder of his girlfriend, Terry-Ann Mohammed, 42; her son, Jesse O'Gilvie, nine; her 30-year-old niece, Patrice Martin McCool, and her children Sean Chin, nine, Lloyd McCool, three, and Jihad McCool. They were believed to have been killed between February 25 and 26 in 2006.

The trial has since heard that Jihad was smothered to death and found with her eyes bulging and tongue protruding through her teeth, while the other five victims, who were found with chop wounds to their necks, died as a result of their throats being slashed.

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