Lauriston murders: Judge to rule on no-case submission today

Lauriston murders: Judge to rule on no-case submission today

Senior staff reporter

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

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Supreme Court Judge Justice Vivene Harris is to this morning make a judgement which will determine whether former assistant teacher Sanja Ducally, who is accused of the 2011 killing and beheading of 18-year-old Joeith Lynch, also known as Crystal, and her mother Charmaine Rattray in Lauriston, St Catherine, has a case to answer in the ongoing trial.

This follows on a no-case submission on behalf of Ducally by his attorney Anthony Williams on Monday, moments after the prosecution, led by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn, made its closing arguments.

Williams argued at the time that the prosecution had failed to produce evidence to show “that there was a plan, aiding and abetting and participation” on the part of Ducally in relation to the crime.

Noting that Ducally had repeatedly indicated that his presence on the scene that night was “to help” Lynch, whom he had heard screaming in passing, Williams said the Crown would have to establish that Mr Ducally was “purposefully present, purposefully and deliberately aided, abetted and participated (in the murders of the two women). There is no such evidence,” he contended, adding “we submit there is not sufficient evidence in this case to give to the jury”.

Yesterday however, Llewellyn, responding to the submission by the defence, said “It is our central submission that there is more than adequate factual basis in respect of evidence which would obligate this court to call upon Mr Ducally to present his defence. There is no need for the court to withdraw the case.”

The DPP said it was a matter of note that when Williams made the no-case submission to the court “strangely he did not focus at all on the actual caution statement Mr Ducally wrote himself”.

“What is of great note in the caution statement, there is nothing in there which would suggest he had adopted a stance of helping the deceased. Mr Ducally's caution statement confirms he heard the screaming, when he went in, he stood there and watched the heinous action, the chopping of Crystal, it is common ground that this house was not a butcher shop, it was a dwelling house,” the DPP emphasised.

“There is no evidence he did anything or said anything to stop the chopping, nor did he opt to leave the scene at the juncture (after he himself said he got chopped on the hand while Crystal was being hacked).

“Non-interference to prevent a crime is not a crime, but the fact that a person is (on the scene and did nothing to prevent or express dissent) might, under some circumstances, provide cogent and credible evidentiary material from which the jury can conclude that the accused participated in activities that resulted in the death... he entered the room, saw what was happening, and voluntarily elected to remain by standing beside the chopper of Crystal while saying nothing in respect of dissent,” she told the court.

“He did not stop at the door or leave the scene to raise an alarm. He basically continues in the company of the same men he saw inflicting the violence on Crystal,” the DPP said, adding that what was more was that Ducally admitted to passing a stranger in the yard on his way into the house and was obviously not viewed as a threat by the stranger as he was allowed to pass, and neither did he view the stranger as a threat, making it seem he was already aware of what was “going on there”.

“The doors were kicked in; he would have been aware violence was being inflicted on the householders. Mr Ducally knows these men don't live there, knows this is not a butcher shop and still goes inside and go and get a chop and then he has the time to stop and tell another man that he got a chop,” the DPP stated.

“At the very least, the accused would have to be called upon to state his defence,” she insisted.

Llewellyn said it could be inferred that Ducally did not return to Kingston Public Hospital the next day to get the wound stitched, as he was told to do, but instead went to the hospital in Port Maria not because he went to see his stepmother who was visiting from abroad as he claims but because he could not go back to Lauriston and was evading the police who were at that point in the area conducting investigations.

“His mother lived in Lauriston, but yet still he went to Port Maria to get his hand stitched on the pretext that his stepmother was coming from overseas?” she questioned.

Yesterday, Williams, in his final statements in responding to the prosecution, said there was “no forensic evidence to link Ducally to the case”, adding further that when the fatal shots were fired Ducally was not at the scene, based on his statement given to the police.

Rattray and her daughter were, on the night of July 19, fatally chopped and shot, then beheaded by a group of about eight men, five of whom were later arrested and charged in relation to the brutal murders. Three of the men Adrian Campbell, Roshane Goldson, and Fabian Smith have since pleaded guilty to non-capital murder and are to be sentenced, while two Ducally and Kemar Riley who are cousins have pleaded not guilty to murder and are standing trial.

Ducally, in a caution statement played into the records of the court last week, claimed he was returning “from a function” in the dead of night, heard Lynch screaming for help and went to investigate. In the videotaped account which was shown to the court, he said upon going into the house and entering Lynch's room he saw two men, one of whom (Goldson) was “busy chopping Crystal”.

“I said, 'what going on?' he couldn't answer because he was busy chopping Crystal so I was standing next to him and while he was chopping he swung the cutlass and it chop me on my hand. Same time I ran outside… and I jump over the back fence and run around the lane and up on Rio Cobre Drive,” Ducally stated. He said it was while running away from the scene that he heard five to six gunshots fired.

The law provides that the trial judge can withdraw the issue of guilt from the jury if she considers that the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction. The judge can exercise this power of her own but the standard practice is for a decision to be made after a formal submission by the defence.

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