Friday, April 19, 2024

Defence objects to reports

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THE COURT MARTIAL of a Coast Guard officer entered its third day yesterday with the prosecution attempting to link his cell phone calls and WhatsApp messages to people considered the “enemy”.

Under the Defence Force Act of 1979, the Barbados Defence Force is mandated to assist police with apprehending parties perceived to threaten the state, including drug dealers and pirates.

Lieutenant (Coast Guard) David Harewood faces four charges, including communicating with the enemy, before a CARICOM military court headed by Jamaican Lieutenant Colonel Rohan Johnson.

Prosecutor Lieutenant Jamar Bourne laid two forensic reports before the court in the name of the accused and Ordinary Seaman Tyrell Gibbons.

They were based on cell phones seized from Harewood, whose residence was the subject of a search by police. He was interviewed by investigator Warrant Officer Christopher Blenman on October 5, 2018, and subsequently charged.

Defence counsel Vincent Watson objected to the presentation of the reports in the absence of the forensic officer who signed off on the reports, Station Sergeant Candace Maynard.

Her absence due to sick leave and the reading of the reports were accepted by the military court after guidance from Crown Counsel Neville Watson, who is serving as judge advocate or legal adviser.

A second, stronger objection was made by the lawyer on the grounds that a person cited, OS Gibbons, was not a co-defendant or party to the court martial, and the report constituted hearsay and significant prejudice to the accused.

After a 15-minute recess, the court resumed and Watson argued in detail, citing various pieces of legislation, that the second report could be admitted into evidence.

Prosecutor Bourne had a witness and forensic expert read through various WhatsApp messages and audio notes with the aim of identifying support that Harewood did contact various individuals.

However, court president Thompson informed the prosecutor: “We are not seeing a lot of the evidence.”

Harewood is charged on two counts of communicating with the enemy, contrary to the Defence Act, conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline, and neglect to the prejudice of good order and military discipline, both under Section 75 of the act.

The case continues today at St Ann’s Fort, Garrison, St Michael.

( HH)

ACCUSED LIEUTENANT

DAVID HAREWOOD. (FP)

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