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Three cops found guilty of manslaughter

Saturday, February 09, 2019

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THE three police constables implicated in the March 2012 murder of 16-year-old schoolgirl Vanessa Kirkland were yesterday freed of murder but convicted of manslaughter.

The seven-member jury returned a unanimous verdict on the lesser charge for constables Durvin Hayles, Anna Kay Bailey and AndreWain Smith, who were on trial for murder in the Home Circuit Court.

The three, who were all assigned to Mobile Reserve, were arrested and charged in May 2013.

During the five-week trial the prosecutor led evidence that Kirland, who was a student of Immaculate Conception High School, was killed in March 2012 after the three police constables drove on to Norman Lane sometime after 9 o' clock on the night of the incident and opened fire on a blue Suzuki Swift motor car parked along the left side of the road.

The trial also heard that six other occupants in the car were shot.

However, the defence team which included attorneys Peter Champagnie, who represented the two male accused, and Oswest Senior Smith, who represented the female, argued that the defendants were acting in self-defence when they fired on the car.

The defence maintained that the police went in pursuit of the vehicle after they were put on alert that occupants of the car had robbed a man of his cellphone and during the pursuit two men fired at them from the car and they took evasive action and fired back.

Constables Smith and Hayles during their unsworn testimony in the trial both expressed remorse over Kirkland's death.

Following the verdict Champagnie expressed disappointment at the result and indicated the defence plans to appeal the lawmen's conviction.

“We have already identified strong grounds of appeal but right now the matter has been set for a sentencing so after that we will examine with a view to appealing.

“I don't think the evidence could support the findings that were arrived at and there are some technical points that arose of general importance in terms of law that I think warrants the intervention of the Court of the Appeal,” he stated.

The three convicted officers who were taken into custody are to return to court on February 14 for a date to be set for sentencing.

In the meantime, the Independent Commission of Investigation, while commending the investigating and the prosecuting teams on the outcome of the case, issued an appeal for the police to be more careful in how they deal with perceived threats from persons inside motor vehicles.

— Tanesha Mundle


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