‘Hopeless case’ thrown out
(CNS): An attempt by the crown to prosecute a local mechanic for perverting the course of justice in a fatal hit and run case was thrown out by a Grand Court judge Monday after the crown presented a particularly weak case. Justice Alex Henderson told the prosecuting counsel his case “was hopeless” after he heard the crown’s evidence against the accused man, whom he discharged less than three hours after the case opened. The public prosecutors had contended that Lancelot Ming had tried to conceal a fender when he learned it was from the car involved in the killing because he had placed it on the top of a container at his garage.
On behalf of the crown, Michael Snape presented no evidence that Ming had actually intended to deliberately hide the fender from the police or that he had tried to throw it away and admitted that the mechanic had, when the appropriate opportunity arose, told the police who was driving the car.
Just a day or so after he had learned that the fender came from the vehicle that had mowed down Quindel Ames (55) on a West Bay pedestrian crossing in December 2007, Ming revealed that he was told by the car’s owner, Mark Jefferson, that he was driving when Ames was killed. He also told the police that he had the fender, which had been damaged in the accident, at his garage in George Town and took police to where it was.
Ming admitted going to Jefferson’s yard on what turned out to be the morning after the accident on Sunday 16 December, where he helped take off the fender from the vehicle, but at the time he did not know the car had been involved in a fatal hit and run. He said Jefferson had told him his girlfriend had "mash-up the car" and asked him to repair the fender. Ming said that Jefferson had also given him the wheels from the vehicle in payment for other work the mechanic was doing for him on a different car.
The crown claimed that when Ming received a call from Jefferson a few days later, he had tried to discard and conceal the offending car part by putting it on top of the container. However, Ming soon told the police what he knew about the crime and the whereabouts of the car part. In his statement he said he had not known before the phone call that Jefferson was involved in the killing or that the fender was important to the investigation.
Although he had not mentioned the fender in his first statement to the police, Ming said later that this was because he was being interviewed in a place where he could be overheard. It was not until the following day that he spotted CI Courtney Myles at the police station, who was at the time head of traffic and an officer that Ming knew, that he felt comfortable saying Jefferson was the hit and run driver and that he had the fender at his garage.
Justice Henderson, who was presiding over the trial alone without a jury, said that in his view there was not and “could not be any case to answer” over the concealment of the fender on the evidence presented by the crown. The judge pointed out that by placing the fender on the container the accused had made it no less visible than if he had left it on the ground or anywhere else and there was no evidence of any intent to interfere with the investigation.
During the presentation of the crown’s evidence it was revealed that the police had arrested Jefferson for killing Ames as a result of the discovery of beads and sequins on his car which matched the deceased woman's dress. The car was seized by police after it was found in Jefferson’s yard at his home in Watercourse Road, without wheels, on blocks with a missing fender and damage to the front headlights.
Jefferson was arrested for the road crime but never admitted to the police that he was driving and he was never charged with the killing. Jefferson was shot dead some seven months later outside Kelly’s Bar, West Bay, in a gang related shooting that has never been solved. Jefferson, who was 23 when he was murdered, was a close friend of Damion Ming, the brother of the mechanic, and was alleged to be a member of the Logwoods gang.
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