Cop defends route
Smith's lawyer hints at legal actionTuesday, October 26, 2021
BY ANTHONY LEWIS
MONTEGO BAY, St James — As lawmen yesterday defended the choice of route taken to transport Kevin Smith, leader of Pathways International Kingdom Restoration Ministries, to Kingston to face charges of murder and illegal possession of firearm, Smith's lead defence attorney has hinted that legal action may be taken against the State.
“I am not putting anything out there to the police until I have done what I am supposed to do. I am not alerting them to what is supposed to be done but I can tell you, he has family members. He is not abandoned,” attorney Valerie Neita-Robertson told the Jamaica Observer, noting that her deceased client's relatives can act on his behalf.
Smith, along with Police Constable Orlando Irons, died in a crash on the Linstead bypass in St Catherine. Two other cops have been hospitalised with serious injuries. According to Assistant Commissioner of Police Clifford Chambers who is in charge of Area One, Smith was being transferred from Montego Bay to the capital city for further questioning by detectives. The decision was made, he explained, after a question-and-answer session over the weekend.
“More evidence turned up, which requires further questions, which is part and parcel why he was being transported,” said Chambers.
He also sought to address questions about why the three-car convoy transporting Smith and another accused did not take the highway. There were several factors that could have influenced the decision, said Chambers who cited, as an example, the need to interface with other police stations should assistance be needed.
“It could be a threat, it could be intelligence, it could be any kind of intelligence that the police have why they would use a particular route over another,” he said.
Whatever decision led to the route selected, Neita-Robertson yesterday lashed out at the police for failing to notify Smith's legal team that he was being moved.
She learned of his death, she said, while enquiring about his whereabouts.
“They are taking him into Kingston and they don't inform us. They don't say 'Mrs Neita-Robertson, we are bringing him into Kingston, we are going to charge him, so if you wish, you can meet us wherever',” she argued. “If you are going to question my client I have to be there. If you are going to search his house, I have to be there. It is a different thing if he did not have an attorney, but he has an attorney. He has two, not one, and they have our phone numbers.”
However, Chambers rebuffed her claims, saying the police were not obliged to inform an attorney if his/her client was being moved to another venue. What is important, the lawman said, is for an attorney to be given appropriate notice about his/her client's location to facilitate investigations or court appearances.
“As it relates to the time, the date when you move these persons, that is strictly the purview of the police with the national security interest at heart,” said Chambers.
He added that advice will be sought from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions on the way forward for the case now that Smith, painted as a major player in the incident that left two people dead and three injured, has died. Smith's co-accused, who was also being transported to Kingston in a separate car, was unhurt during the crash.