Office of the DPP explains what led to release of murder accused

Office of the DPP explains what led to release of murder accused

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS
Senior staff reporter
dunkley-willisa@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, August 10, 2020

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THE Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) on the weekend sought to set the record straight in relation to recent media reports surrounding the release of Lynford Allen, a former accused in the murder of financial analyst Jamie Lue in December 2005.

Allen earlier this month made headlines when he was freed of the murder charge on the basis of “lack of evidence”, after “one hundred court appearances” .

The Office of the DPP, in a detailed response, outlined the course taken by the prosecution which led to the final disposition of the matter by Justice Vivene Harris in November of 2019, after the Crown offered “no further evidence” against Allen.

Allen, the office said, first appeared on the radar of the police in January 2006 after intelligence gathered revealed that he and other persons of interest from the Grant's Pen area, including his former co-accused Andre West (now deceased), were implicated in the kidnapping and murder of Jamie Lue committed on December 30, 2005.

According to the evidence led by the prosecution in the start of the matter in October of 2019, on the fateful night in question, Lue was driving his mother's Honda CRV in the Norbrook, Constant Spring, area on his way to his girlfriend's home to pick her up for a party when four men in a gold Nissan motor car began trailing him. When he arrived at her gate the men used their vehicle to block the driveway. They then took Lue at gunpoint from the driver's seat, placed him in the back seat of the CRV and drove off with him.

During the escapade the men also robbed a taxi driver on Charlton Road in the area of a sum of cash. During the course of that robbery Lue bravely attempted to escape by grabbing one of the gunmen who was left inside the car. During that tussle he was shot and wounded. One of his kidnappers was also hurt in the melee.

They then drove Lue to a playing field in the Grant's Pen area where they shot and killed him before abandoning the vehicle with his body in it on Mayfair Avenue.

According to the evidence led by prosecutors, an anonymous tip that a person by the name of Gavin Walker may have been involved in Lue's murder led the police to the Grant's Pen area in Saint Andrew where they saw a man who identified himself by that name.

'Walker' at that time told the police that he had been injured by a piece of steel in Linstead. Following his arrest Walker, asked again by another office about his injury, said “a inna di van me and the Chinese youth get shot; me get shot too”. He then informed the police that he wanted to tell them a story.

As a result of those investigations three other persons — Andre West, alias Dane; Dwayne Owen, alias Spent Shell; and Ryan Wilson, alias Chucky — were apprehended by the police.

In January of 2006 Walker, in a statement to the police, said on the night of Lue's murder he was at KFC in Manor Park when he saw a car being driven by West with the other two aboard. He claimed that West got out of the car and showed him a gun.

He said the kidnapping of Lue then took place and told the police that he was threatened not to speak about anything after the deceased was murdered.

Walker then revealed his true name to the police as being Lynford Allen.

According to the Office of the DPP, “as a result of his admissions and the fact that he had confessed to giving the police a wrong name, a question and answer (Q&A) interview, under caution, was held by the police with Allen in the presence of his attorney”.

During that interview, Allen said the ODPP gave a different version once more as to the events leading up to the death of Lue. In this subsequent version he stated that he was at the KFC in Manor Park when a white car driven by West approached with two others. He claimed they told him to accompany them and that they saw and robbed Lue and the taxi driver afterward. He claimed that at this point Lue tried to escape and he heard shots being fired and Lue crying out, after which he (Allen) felt a burning sensation and realised that he had been shot.

Allen told the police that he was eventually taken to the hospital where he was told by West that he was not to give the hospital authorities his right name or address. He was treated and released.

West (who is now dead), in his own statement to the police, confirmed the two robberies on the night in question and said it was Allen that shot Lue during the tussle.

West, however, became embroiled in another murder — that of Steve Harvey, a prominent HIV/AIDS activist — in November of that same year. According to the prosecutors, given the circumstances surrounding the availability of witnesses in respect of the murders of Harvey and Lue, and bearing in mind that West was a common co-accused in both matters, a prosecutorial decision was taken to proceed with the Harvey murder case first.

The lengthy trial ended in 2014 and West and Owen were found guilty for Harvey's murder.

According to the Office of the DPP, between 2006 and 2019 the matter was mentioned on 40 dates before the court.

It said on two particular court dates the matter could not proceed, as West was not brought to court on account of being ill. Given that he was the co-accused to Allen, the matter was adjourned to allow for West to recover. However, on the next court date the matter had to be adjourned again as West had died.

Following West's death the indictment which had formally charged Allen and West for illegal possession of firearm, illegal possession of ammunition, kidnapping, robbery with aggravation, and murder was modified to reflect only Allen.

The Crown also called witnesses who spoke to the timeline — starting from a gas station pump attendant who was the last person to see Lue alive, to the deceased's girlfriend who said he did not arrive to pick her up, to the sister of the deceased who stated the deceased did not show up to the party and that calls to his phone went unanswered, and to the mother of the deceased who stated that she did not hear from him.

The Crown then sought to admit into evidence the most critical piece of evidence, the witness statement that Allen gave under the name Gavin Walker and his question-and-answer interview.

The defence however objected, leading to a voire dire (a trial within a trial) to determine the admissibility of the statements in the absence of the jury.

During those proceedings the Crown called witnesses, primarily police officers, to speak to the circumstances of Allen's arrest and detention. Ultimately the trial judge, after hearing submissions from the prosecutor and defence counsel, ruled that the Crown had not led sufficient credible and cogent evidence which would have attained the required threshold, as a matter of law, to allow her to admit either the witness statement given by Allen (under the name Gavin Walker) or the question and answer into evidence, because she was not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt in respect of the credibility of the Crown's witnesses on issues surrounding the circumstances of Allen's detention and arrest.

“The learned trial judge had critical concern of the evidence surrounding the length of time Mr Allen had spent in custody and was not satisfied,” the Office of the DPP said.

As a result of the statements not being admitted into evidence and the recognition that there was insufficient material, the Crown offered no further evidence and the matter was brought to an end. Allen was acquitted and discharged after the judge asked the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty.


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