Robber loses appeal against conviction
A man jailed in connection to an armed robbery has lost an appeal against his conviction.
Detre Ford was convicted in the Supreme Court of both possessing a prohibited weapon and aggravated burglary.
However, through defence lawyer Susan Mulligan, he argued that a late change in lawyers and the handling of mobile phone evidence had left him at a disadvantage.
During the trial, the court heard that on July 1, 2016, two men entered a Barracks Close, St George’s home, pointed a handgun at the occupant and attempted to rob him.
However the weapon jammed, and the suspects fled.
One suspect, identified as Wakeem Philpott, was seen getting into a vehicle matching the description of Ford’s car.
A short while later, police stopped Ford. At that time, Philpott was in the front passenger’s seat of Ford’s car with the firearm and a pair of gloves.
A box of matching gloves were found in the read of the vehicle.
Also in the car were two white shirts, belonging to Ford, which matched the description of those used by Philpott to disguise himself during the burglary.
Philpott admitted his involvement in the robbery but Ford maintained his innocence, saying that he had driven to St George’s to meet a friend and picked up Philpott by chance.
Ford went through a Supreme Court trial, but was found guilty by a jury and subsequently sentenced to 12 years behind bars.
Ms Mulligan however said that the decision of the judge not to adjourn the trial after Ford had a change of counsel had prejudiced the defence.
The Appeals Panel heard that Ford had been represented by Marc Daniels up until six days before the trial, when he had to step down, with Ms Mulligan meeting Ford the first time the following day.
While she applied for the trial to be adjourned, Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves declined the application.
Ms Mulligan argued that the refusal stacked the deck against the defence effort, but the Court of Appeal ruled that the decision to adjourn a trial is a matter of the judge’s discretion.
The court’s written ruling said: “He has many interests to consider, including those of litigants in other cases.
“Nothing was drawn to our attention to suggest that Mr Justice Greaves exercised his discretion on any wrong principle.”
Ms Mulligan also argued that evidence surrounding Ford’s mobile phone was mishandled.
The phone, seized when Ford was arrested, showed no activity after 1.34pm that day.
Prosecutors suggested that the lack of activity clashed with Ford’s claim that he had gone to St George’s to meet a friend he called Josh, and had attempted to call him unsuccessfully.
Ms Mulligan argued that the judge had allowed the jury to “speculate and draw inferences” on if missed calls would be logged without any such evidence from the Crown.
However the Appeals Panel noted that the issue was not raised by either side when the prosecution’s expert witness took the stand and only arose when Ford himself gave evidence.
The ruling said: “It is understandable why the judge approached matters as he did because it was not apparent that there was an issue about the phone records until the appellant gave evidence, and that there was an issue that should have been made clear in cross-examination of [the expert witness].”
The panel dismissed Ford’s appeal against his conviction, along with an appeal against his 12-year sentence saying that there were no mitigating factors in Ford’s favour.
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