Phone, recordings and cop’s second statement feature in Beachy Stout murder trial
After a month-long voir dire, the murder trial of Everton “Beachy Stout” McDonald and his co-accused, Oscar Barnes, resumed in the presence of a seven-member jury on Monday in the Home Circuit Court in Kingston, with a detective constable outlining steps he took to secure a cellphone which allegedly contained call recordings, but which he failed to mention in his first statement.
The cop admitted in court to having recorded a second statement in 2023, three years after his first statement, in which he mentioned the phone.
The voir dire, a trial within a trial, was conducted to determine whether the call recordings should be admitted as evidence in the matter without the presence of the jury. It was ruled that the recordings would be accepted despite requests from defence attorneys representing Beachy Stout to have them thrown out.
The call recordings are said to be of 120 conversations between Beachy Stout and Denvalyn “Bubbla” Minott.
Minott is currently serving a 19-year and 10-month prison sentence for being the contractor in the murder of Beachy Stout’s second wife, Tonia McDonald.
Minott confessed to his role in the July 20, 2020 murder and agreed to become Crown witness and give evidence against Beachy Stout and Barnes.
According Minott, Beachy Stout promised him $3 million if he could stab Tonia to death but because he couldn’t do it, he sub-contracted the job to Barnes, who, he claimed, he first met on a fishing beach in Manchioneal, Portland, one day.
Following the murder, after failed attempts to collect money from Beachy Stout, Minott claimed that he secretly recorded about 120 phone calls he allegedly had with the Portland businessman.
The detective constable, who had arrested Minott in 2020, told the court on Monday that he confiscated a cellphone from Minott when he arrested him at his home in Ranch Hill, Portland. He also told the court that he confiscated payment slips belonging to Minott’s son which had the name Mary Shine Enterprise printed on them. Along with the phone and the receipt, the detective constable said he also took away a pair of Clarks shoes from Minott’s home because it appeared to have blood splattered on it.
However, in court on Monday, the detective constable said that he made no reference to the phone in his initially recorded statement on September 16, 2020. The first time he made mention of a phone in any statement was in September 2023 when the trial had already started.
That prompted attorney Courtney Rowe, a member of Beachy Stout’s defence team, to ask during cross-examination if the policeman knew what cooking up a case meant.
Laughing at the question, the policeman then asked Rowe what he meant, when he said cooking up a case.
Rowe did not expound.
The detective said he wrote the second statement after being instructed by the lead investigator from the Major Investigations Division to do so.
“On arrival at Mr Minott’s house on August 3, 2020 I told him that I had a warrant to search his house under the Firearms Act. He complied and agreed to the search. He had a mobile phone in his possession and I took the phone. He had it in his hand. I placed the phone in the front of my ballistic vest. It was a Samsung Galaxy A31 (SMA-315). The search eventually concluded and nothing more of interest was found. I handed over Mr Minott and the items to the lead detective. The model number I gave you just now came from the back of the phone. I had made a note of it on August 3, 2020 in my notebook.
“I wrote two statements in regards to this matter. The first one was in September 2020. I had to write the second statement because I did not mention the model number of the phone in the first statement. The lead investigator pointed it out to me, so I wrote the second statement. I handed over the phone sometime around midday on August 3, 2020 and did not have anything further to do in relation to this matter,” the detective constable testified.
During Rowe’s cross-examination, the cop testified that he learnt in October 2023 that he would be required to give evidence in the case and that he gave his second statement on September 21, 2023, just days after the start of the murder trial on September 18, 2023.
“I gave my first statement on September 16, 2020. It was typed on one and a half legal size paper. The time I wrote that statement was closer to the time of the search. Nowhere in the statement did I mention taking a phone from Bubbla. Nowhere did I mention anything about a model number. The first time I mentioned a phone was after I was told to come and give evidence. Nowhere in my first statement did I say I handed over a phone to the lead detective. It wasn’t important to record in the first statement that I handed over a phone. The only thing I mentioned in the statement was the pay slips I found at the house. I didn’t see anything significant about the phone. I did not even record it in the station diary and I did not make an entry in the movement diary,” the detective constable said.
The murder trial has seen seven witnesses take the stand so far.
On Monday, a detective corporal also gave evidence in the case. He was one of the policemen who arrested co-accused Barnes and played a major role in the investigation.
He told the court that in June 2021 he was briefed by one of his superiors and instructed that he was to collect a package from the Cyber Forensics Crime Division. The package contained sensitive evidence related to the matter.
“When I collected the package, I made notes in my notebook as to what I collected. It was a digital forensic report as well as compact discs (CDs). It was two CDs. The package had a revenue number which I recorded in my notebook for the year 2021. I don’t have the book with me. It is at my office,” the detective corporal said, indicating that the book is readily available but that he just didn’t have it in his possession.
Judge Chester Stamp adjourned the matter until this morning when the cop is expected to bring the notebook to court.