MONTEGO Bay, St James — The mother of murdered nine-year-old Gabriel King has six days, maximum, to give the police access to her mobile phone. But her lawyer says he intends to appeal the ruling.
When the matter came up in the St James Parish Court on Friday, Senior Parish Judge Sasha Ashley ordered Amoi Leon-Issa to give access to her iPhone 13 Pro Max for analysis. She also rejected a submission from Leon-Issa's attorney — Chuckwuemeka Cameron — that his client should be present while her phone was being analysed. It will be enough for Cameron to be present, the judge ruled.
The attorney said he will now await further instructions from his client on how to proceed.
"Whether or not we got a fair hearing, the answer to that question is, 'Yes'. Whether or not the variations adequately protect the privacy rights of my client is really subject to my client's view of the matter," he told the Jamaica Observer outside the courthouse.
He said Leon-Issa is still mourning the loss of her son.
"My client wants the police to complete their investigation and find out who was responsible for her child's death. If the police wanted the information in the protection order — the cell site data — they could have gone to the telecommunication company, and that is what they have sought in the production order. So my client wants the police to conduct their investigations with all means necessary to bring an end to this matter and discover the culprit," stated Cameron. "She is distraught, as we speak, as a result of losing her son."
On January 13, King, who was autistic, was found with his throat slashed, his body slumped on the back seat of his mother's car. She had reported to the police, minutes earlier, that her car was hijacked with the child inside. The shocking murder was widely condemned, with the police being urged to bring the boy's killers to justice.
Lawmen have steadily maintained that they have met upon roadblocks while working the case.
Last week, commanding officer of the St James Police Division SSP Vernon Ellis told the Observer that since young King's death, investigators "have employed a range of technological, forensic and cyber strategies in attempting to make a breakthrough in this case".
"We have collected statements; we've even brought an expert in a motor vehicle of the exact make and model to the one young Gabriel was killed in on that day. Based on what was reported to us, the crime scene was re-enacted [and] several case conferences were conducted by the detectives," SSP Ellis shared.
However, he said, the police's attempts to further carry out their analysis of the child's murder were met with a lack of cooperation. Their efforts to gain "access" to a cellphone belonging to the mother of young King was barred, he said.
"Early in this year my detectives made an application for a production order, pursuant to Section 21 of the Cyber Crimes Act, for the mother of the deceased to give permission to have access to her cellphone. That cellphone has been in the custody of the police since January when this murder took place," said Ellis.
"On the 6th of September 2022 [the] production order was granted by the parish judge, stating that within 48 hours of the service of the order, the key and communication cell site and other data surrounding the phone [are to] be handed over for the purpose of the criminal investigation into the murder of Gabriel King," the commanding officer added.
"Through our lawyers she is now challenging the order made on September 6," Ellis said.
The legal battle over accessing Leon-Issa's phone began on Monday, November 14 and continued on Friday when the judge amended the order to access provided by November 24.