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Shooting conspiracy trial nears conclusion

A six-week trial is to conclude this week for four men accused in connection with a shooting that inflicted grievous bodily harm.

The case in Supreme Court against Jahkeil Samuels, 27, Jamin Saltus, 22, Ronniko Burchall, 24, and Alex Vanderpool, 22, all hinges on the testimony of Olice Morgan — a key witness for the prosecution who is currently in jail for handling a firearm and receiving stolen goods.

“The prosecution and the defence agree — this case stands or falls on the evidence of Mr Morgan,” Puisne Judge Stephen Hellman told the jury in his summation yesterday.

Mr Samuels, according to the prosecution, ordered Mr Saltus and Mr Burchall to carry out a shooting on the night of February 29, 2012.

All three have denied a charge of conspiring to shoot, with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, a victim who cannot be named for legal reasons — plus an unknown individual.

“You have heard that on the 29th of February the person they wanted to shoot was not there — so they decided to shoot someone else,” Mr Justice Hellman told the jury.

However, he added: “One possible scenario is the person who did shoot someone else went beyond the common intention that they had.”

The alleged victim was shot in the buttock as he stood outside a party on Mission Lane, Pembroke.

In a measure of the case’s complexity, the jury must decide whether there had been a conspiracy to shoot someone — and, if so, whether the man actually shot was done so as a consequence of that conspiracy.

“Or was the shooter acting on his own?” Mr Justice Hellman asked jury members.

The three accused have also denied a charge of handling a firearm to commit the same indictable offence. Mr Vanderpool, meanwhile, pleaded not guilty to a single charge of handling a firearm on the night of February 28.

Mr Justice Hellman told the jury that Mr Morgan, who has testified to witnessing the agreement to carry out the shooting, could not be considered a man of good character since he holds previous convictions for violence in his native jurisdiction of Jamaica.

Mr Morgan’s testimony must also be viewed in light of his part in a March 18, 2012 burglary of a residence in the Trinity Church area of Hamilton Parish.

He received a 35 percent discount to his sentence for agreeing to assist police and is currently serving seven-and-a-half years.

The trial continues today.

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Published July 03, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated July 02, 2013 at 11:42 pm)

Shooting conspiracy trial nears conclusion

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