Dill loses appeal against murder conviction
A man jailed for the murder of Perry Puckerin has lost an appeal against his conviction.
Jeremiah Dill, 35, was sentenced to 35 years behind bars after a jury found he fatally shot Mr Puckerin as he was about to leave Hamilton Parish Workman’s Club on the evening of January 3, 2010.
Mark Pettingill, who represented Dill in a March 11 Court of Appeal hearing, argued the evidence of a witness who identified Dill as the gunman should not have been allowed.
Mr Pettingill said the witness had very little time to identify the gunman, who had his face covered with his jacket.
Sir Maurice Kay, a Court of Appeal judge, agreed in a decision handed down on June 6 that the conditions under which the witness identified Dill were not ideal. But he added her story could be supported by other evidence before the jury.
The judge said: “If her evidence had stood alone, it is possible that the judge would have had to withdraw the case from the jury. However, it did not stand alone. The man said by the witness to have been the shooter is the same man referred to by another witness as having been present at the meeting with [gang leader] Prince Edness earlier on the day of the murder and as having excitedly celebrated the murder two days later.
“It was also open to the jury to find support for her evidence in the gunshot residue evidence.”
Prosecutors in the 2018 Supreme Court trial alleged that Dill shot Mr Puckerin as part of a feud between two rival Pembroke gangs.
The court heard Mr Puckerin was leaving the club after drinking with friends when he was shot near the doorway. He suffered two gunshot wounds to the left side of his body in the attack.
The key witness, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, told the court that she recognised Dill as the gunman based on his voice and his eyes.
Mr Pettingill argued the trial judge should have directed the jury to ignore the witness’s identification because her opportunity to recognise the shooter was “limited” and her friendship with the victim and his fellow gang members may have tainted her evidence.
He noted that the witness did not name Dill as the gunman until her third statement to police — made about 18 months after her previous two statements.
The witness was questioned about the delay in the trial and said she had initially omitted his name because the killing was gang-related and she was worried about the consequences.
She said she had later changed her mind and decided “enough was enough”.
Mr Pettingill also alleged that the evidence of the witness should not have been accepted because of her “psychological and medical condition”.
The court heard that the witness suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the shooting, and later suffered a brain aneurysm.
But the appeal panel found the mental health matters had been argued during the trial, and the Supreme Court was told by experts the conditions would not impact her memory or truthfulness.
Mr Justice Kay said there was nothing to suggest the expert assessments put before the Supreme Court should not have been taken at face value, and that no new evidence had been submitted to the Court of Appeal to contradict it.
Mr Pettingill also raised concerns about the gunshot residue evidence in the case, which included particles found on items of clothing and particles associated with GSR on Dill’s hands.
He highlighted a section of the trial judge’s summation, which he said incorrectly suggested “true GSR” had been found on Dill’s hands.
Mr Justice Kay however said that in the context of the broader summary, the comment was not prejudicial.
The judge said: “Notwithstanding the force of Mr Pettingill’s critique, I have come to the clear conclusion that, read as a whole, as it must be, the summation did not unfairly imperil the appellant in its treatment of this evidence.
“It had its strengths and weaknesses and they were all put before the jury for their careful consideration.”
• It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.
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