A convicted cop killer – who was allegedly nabbed by the police while hiding in a truck with the same gun used in the shooting tucked in his crotch, along with rounds of ammunition – lost his appeal against his conviction and life sentence for that 2012 murder last week.
The man, Anthony Brown, was in 2018 convicted by a judge and jury on an indictment charging him with two counts of illegal possession of firearm, one count of illegal possession of ammunition and one count of murder, and ordered to serve 29 years before he becomes eligible for parole.
According to the facts of the case unveiled during the trial, Detective Corporal Ransford Durrant was shot and killed on the morning of December 17, 2012, shortly after he entered a shop in Windsor Heights, St Ann.
On the morning of the shooting one spent 9mm cartridge casing was recovered from the shop by personnel from the constabulary's Technical Services Division, Scenes of Crime. This spent casing was parcelled, labelled and taken to the Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine (IFSLM) for ballistics testing.
His killer or killers remained at large until January 3, 2013 about 12:30 am, when detectives from the Spanish Town Criminal Investigation Branch, acting on information, went to the vicinity of the Angels Plaza and signalled a motor truck to stop. The rear of the truck,which was laden with goods and partially covered by a tarpaulin, was searched and Brown and another man (his co-accused) were found.
They were ordered from the truck and a search of Brown revealed a firearm, with a magazine containing five rounds of ammunition, hidden in the region of his groin. These items were submitted for ballistics testing.
An expert attached to the IFSLM testified during the trial that there was a ballistics match between the firearm recovered from the appellant and the spent casing recovered from the shop in Windsor Heights.
An eyewitness who testified during the trial also placed Brown at the scene of the crime on the day. Brown, during the trial,disputed the police's account that he had been found with a gun in his possession.
The defence, in appealing the 2018 ruling, argued among other things that the prosecution witness had identified the wrong person, the Crown had failed to present any concrete evidence to link the defendant to the crime, and that the sentence was manifestly excessive. Further, the defence said the trial judge had failed to give adequate instruction to the jury regarding what it said was the inconsistent and contradictory testimonies from Crown witnesses, and that Brown was wrongfully convicted for a crime that he knew nothing about and could not have committed.
In the judgment handed down last week the Appeal Court said “our perusal of the transcript revealed that the learned judge not only gave adequate directions on inconsistencies but also pointed out several for the jury's consideration”.
In the meantime, the court said in light of the circumstances and bearing in mind principles in case law, in reviewing the sentenced imposed by the judge it would reduce the starting point from 35 years to 33 years.
According to the court, the judge in this case chose 35 years as the starting point, which is within the normal range of periods of sentences ordered to be served before parole eligibility for murder. The judge then deducted the time spent by the appellant in custody awaiting trial but did not demonstrate that he had considered the mitigating and aggravating factors relevant to Brown.
In carrying out that exercise the court, in noting that the aggravating factors would be that Brown had four previous convictions and that he committed these offences after escaping custody, said it would increase the period to be served before parole eligibility to 39 years.
“For the mitigating factors we would subtract four years, making the period 35 years. This would be further reduced by the time spent in custody, which was almost six years. The appellant would therefore have to serve 29 years. In light of the above we are of the view that the stipulation that the appellant should serve 29 years before being eligible for parole is not manifestly excessive,” it stated.
Pointing out that the sentences imposed on the other counts were not challenged, the Appeal Court, in noting that it “unhesitatingly endorsed” that position, ordered “the appeal against conviction and sentence dismissed. The convictions and sentences affirmed, and that the sentences are reckoned to have commenced on November 16, 2018”.
A December 2012 report in the Observer said the off-duty detective corporal,who was assigned to the St James Division but lived in St Ann, was reportedly taking groceries to the home where his child lived when he was ambushed, just metres away from the dwelling. He was not armed.
“Di bag dem all down deh pon di groun,” said one of the residents who gathered on the scene at the time.
“A good policeman dat. Mi nuh know why dem would want to kill him,” another added.