Man loses appeal against firearm conviction

  • Court (photo by Glenn Tucker)

    Court (photo by Glenn Tucker)

A man sentenced to 12 years behind bars for possession of a firearm has lost an appeal against his conviction.

Eston Joell, 48, argued that he had been ambushed by new evidence in the middle of the trial, and that the jury should not have heard about his previous conviction for lying to police.

Joell’s earlier Supreme Court trial heard that on September 1, 2015, police had surveillance on Joell’s co-accused, Lekan Scott.

Scott visited Joell’s home that day and left after 12 minutes.

Scott was then involved in a collision with another motorcycle on Middle Road in Paget and fled the area on foot, leaving his belongings behind.

Among the items was a Colt 45 handgun with five rounds of .45 calibre ammunition, which was later found to have Joell’s DNA on it.

The next day, police searched Joell’s home and found several items in a “secret room” attached to his bedroom, including fourteen rounds of hollow point small-calibre ammunition and 38 rifle rounds.

Scott told police when arrested that Joell had given him an item to take to the Botanical Gardens, where it was to be collected by someone else.

Joell, however, said he had no knowledge of the firearm or the contents of the secret room, but a jury found him guilty of possessing both a firearm and ammunition.

He later launched an appeal and argued a range of points including that the jury should not have heard evidence that, years earlier, he was convicted of giving police false information.

The conviction was shown to the court by Scott’s counsel after Detective Sergeant Kenton Trott, the officer of the case, said he was not aware of any previous convictions against Joell.

Sergeant Trott later said that while the original record had been destroyed, the copy of the conviction presented to the court was accurate.

Lawyer Susan Mulligan, representing Joell, said that the information was more prejudicial than probative and should not have gone before the jury.

However, in their judgment, the Appeals Panel found that the co-defendant had the right to bring the conviction to the jury’s attention.

“Had his 1991 conviction been disclosed to the appellant at the same time as it was disclosed to the co-defendant, the element of surprise would have been avoided, but the co-defendant would still have been permitted to introduce it,” the judgment said.

“No details were available of the conviction and the appellant was otherwise a person of previous good character.”

Regarding the secret room, early in the trial officers told the court that they did not notice any evidence that the room had been locked.

Giving evidence on the stand, Joell repeatedly said that there were no locks on the door to the room.

However, prosecutors later presented the court with photographs showing a pair of locks on the inside of the door.

While counsel for Joell argued that the picture should not have been admitted, the panel wrote: “The evidence of the photograph was properly admitted because of the appellant’s unforeseen assertions that there were no locks on the room.”

The panel also dismissed complaints about the trial judge’s directions to the jury and handling of CCTV evidence during the trial.

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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