Shooting trial defendant is accused of ‘making up’ his evidence
A man accused of masterminding a double shooting faced allegations from a prosecutor that he was trying to lie his way out of trouble.
According to Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Cindy Clarke, Parkside associate Jahmel Blakeney arranged the attempted murder of footballer Shaki Minors and his pregnant girlfriend Renee Kuchler after spotting them at the Southside Cinema, in St David’s.
She alleged that Mr Blakeney left the movie without watching it in order to drive back to Hamilton and arrange for his co-accused, Sanchey Grant, 20, to come and shoot the victims.
Mr Minors and Ms Kuchler were seriously injured when a gunman opened fire on them as they left the cinema at 11.30pm on November 13, 2009.
Mr Minors believes the attack was perpetrated by the Parkside gang due to his links to the rival 42 gang. Police expert Alexander Rollin named Mr Grant as a member of that gang earlier in the trial, and Mr Blakeney as an associate.
When he took the witness box at the Supreme Court in his own defence on Tuesday, Mr Blakeney, 30, claimed he only left the movie early because his girlfriend bought tickets for a film he did not wish to see.
He said when he noticed the film’s name, Precious, on his movie ticket, he got back in his car and drove back to Hamilton. He denied being associated with Parkside and claimed he spent the night in question with friends, drinking and smoking cannabis at Western Stars Sports Club in Pembroke and then at St David’s Cricket Club.
Yesterday, however, Ms Clarke called evidence from Southside Cinema’s owner and manager Alden Ray. He told the jury the cinema has not printed the name of movies on its tickets since 2005 or 2006.
Cross examining Mr Blakeney, the prosecutor alleged that his story does not add up, and his phone records show the true story of what happened.
“When you came up to Southside in your car you saw Shaki Minors, and you know he is 42. And when you saw him, you called Parkside,” she suggested.
“That’s incorrect,” replied Mr Blakeney.
“You made calls to rally the boys, and then you sped back town. And while you were driving back town you called Parkside again,” continued the prosecutor, who went on to allege that he picked up “somebody from Parkside” and some gloves and a gun before heading back to St David’s.
She suggested he gave his navy-blue jacket, which was later found to have gunshot residue on it, to his co-accused Sanchey Grant. Mr Grant is accused of being the gunman who attacked the couple.
“That’s incorrect,” replied Mr Blakeney again.
Ms Clarke suggested that once the crime had been committed, Mr Blakeney and Mr Grant waited until they thought “the coast was clear,” but ended up getting flagged down by the police as they exited St David’s in a jeep.
“You saw the police when you were coming out of St David’s and you failed to stop when they told you to and you sped past them on the roundabout. And that gun was dumped out of the window of your car and it’s only then that you stopped,” she alleged.
“That’s incorrect,” replied Mr Blakeney.
A Beretta pistol, which prosecutors say was used in the attempted murder, was found on the side of Kindley Field Road the following morning.
“Mr Blakeney, I’m going to suggest to you that you haven’t been completely honest with us in your evidence over the last few days. I’m going to suggest that you’re making this up as you go along,” said Ms Clarke.
“That’s incorrect,” replied Mr Blakeney, once again.
The trial has previously heard from Mr Blakeney’s ex-girlfriend Jalicia Crockwell, who spent time with him and Mr Grant on the night of the shooting. She told police Mr Grant visited her family home in Pembroke from some time after 10pm that night, until roughly 11.45pm. The shooting occurred around 11.30pm.
In his evidence, Detective Inspector Michael Redfern said he felt Ms Crockwell’s times “were a bit mixed up” and did not provide Mr Grant with an alibi.
Yesterday, Mr Grant declined an opportunity to give evidence in his own defence. However, his lawyer, Jerome Lynch QC, called Ms Crockwell’s mother, Julie Walker, as a defence witness.
Ms Walker told the jury Mr Grant was at her home that night. She estimated he arrived there around 20 minutes after her daughter arrived “before ten” and left again “just after 12.”
Ms Clarke accused her of lying or being confused, pointing out that she originally told police her daughter arrived home at 10.21pm. Ms Walker denied lying. However, she revealed that she was arrested on allegations of perverting the course of justice in relation to the case in June 2010.
According to her, police told her “that I lied in my statement, that I’m making a false statement.” She said she was kept in police custody overnight and officers “badgered” her to change her statement, which she refused to do.
She later made a formal complaint against the police, but said she has heard nothing back.
“I don’t lie for anybody, not even my children, and they will tell you that,” she told the jury. “That’s my motto in life; speak the truth.”
Mr Blakeney and Mr Crockwell deny attempted murder and gun possession, and the case continues.