Cult pastor was moved in interest of justice, wouldn't get fair trial in MoBay, DPP saysMonday, October 25, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Director of Public Prosecutions, Paula Lewellyn, said cult pastor, Kevin Smith, was being transported to Kingston today “in the interest of justice”.
Smith and Police Constable, Orlando Irons, of the Montego Bay Fugitive Apprehension Team, were killed in an accident along the Bog Walk Bypass. Two other policemen travelling with them in an unmarked unit have been hospitalised.
Even though the alleged crimes for which Smith and his two co-accused are being held occurred in Montego Bay, St James, Lewellyn told OBSERVER ONLINE that the pastor might not get a fair trial in the second city.
“The essential criterion for a trial is fairness to all parties. In this case, part of the allegations would be that this was a gentleman of great influence through his church. The potential witnesses are persons who belong to his church. The allegations would have excited and provoked the passion of a lot of members of the public within the St James area and the wider community,” Lewellyn said.
“The potential jurors to try the case against him would have been drawn from the same community. So, these potential jurors would either have been persons who would have either already been prejudiced against him or for him. Prejudice against the potential witnesses or for the potential witnesses.”
She said given the nature of the allegations, which seems to have shocked the public, a consideration of the interest of justice not only has to look at the process, the accused, the victims and the witnesses, but also how quickly the matter would have been able to move through the court system.
“We would have been getting information from the police about what they would have been seeing on the ground, such as the fear factor and intimidation of potential witnesses. We have been getting that information on the ground so all that ties into your assessment of whether the accused could really get a fair trial in St James and whether the witnesses or the victims, would have been able to participate in a trial,” she revealed.
She said under the Constitution, the DPP has the power to, among other things, initiate prosecutions straight, and move the case to another area. She said this is not done often. as it depends on the circumstances, but it has been done before.
“Kingston and St Andrew would have the largest jury pool and it would have been hardly likely that you would have possible jurors or persons who would have been relatives of members of his church or would have had passions inflamed one way or another. You would have a better likelihood that objective persons would be able to participate in the trial,” she said.
Lewellyn offered condolences to family, friends and colleagues of the deceased men. She wished a speedy recovery to the injured cops.