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Pair appeal attempted murder convictions

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Two men convicted of shooting a couple outside a busy theatre are appealing against their conviction in the Court of Appeal.

Jahmel Blakeney and Sanchey Grant were both sentenced to 30 years in prison after being found guilty of two counts of attempted murder, but defence lawyer Craig Attridge yesterday told the court that the trial judge had erred in his directions to the jury.

Among the grounds for appeal listed by Mr Attridge is the claim that Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves suggested that if the jury found one of the defendants guilty, they must also convict the other.

Both men were convicted for the 2009 shooting of Shaki Minors and his pregnant girlfriend Renee Kuchler following a Supreme Court trial.

The court had heard that the couple were both shot multiple times while leaving the theatre.

“While both victims survived the attack, Ms Kuchler lost her child as a result of the injuries suffered and Mr Minors suffered lasting numbness in his fingers due to the attack.

Prosecutors said that the shooting was committed as payback for a shooting a week earlier in which members of the Parkside gang were targeted, alleging that the defendants were linked to that gang.

They told the jury that Grant was the gunman, while Blakeney was the “mastermind” of the attack.

Both Blakeney and Grant were arrested in the hours following the shooting after running through a police roadblock in St Davids.

The court had heard that Blakeney was driving the vehicle, a black jeep belonging to his sister, while Grant was lying down in the passenger seat.

The firearm used in the shooting was found later that day, with prosecutors alleging that Grant had thrown the weapon out of the car during the police chase out of the view of officers.

The pair were linked to the crime by gunshot residue and DNA on their clothing, and eyewitness accounts of the shooter, and a DNA expert also told the jury the defendants' DNA was among that of several people found on the handgrip of the gun.

Mr Attridge, representing Grant, told the court that trial judge had erred on several points of law while giving his directions to the jury, including telling jurors that based on the case before the courts he could not see how one defendant could be convicted and the other acquitted.

Mr Attridge argued that a conviction against Blakeney would not necessarily mean a conviction against Grant, saying that the evidence for Grant being the shooter was “far from strong”.

“The direction was wrong in law and, unfortunately, prejudiced the case against Mr Grant,” Mr Attridge said.

He also said the judge “changed tact” during his final speech to the jury, saying that while the Crown based its entire case on the idea that Grant was the gunman, Mr Justice Greaves had suggested Grant could be convicted on the basis of aiding and abetting the culprits — a suggestion which Mr Attridge said had not been foreshadowed at all during the trial.

Mr Attridge further said that the trial judge had selective in his summary of the eye witnesses, picking the “plums” from each witnesses testimony and downplaying details that were in conflict with each other.

And he raised complaints about the prosecutor's closing statement for suggesting the shooting was a retaliation for a separate shooting a week prior in which Parkside gang members were targeted.

Mr Attridge said that there was no admissible evidence before the court about the earlier shooting or to suggest the matters were linked.

“There was no evidence even to suggest that Grant was even aware there was a shooting the week before,” Mr Attridge said. “The only reference to the shooting was hearsay and inadmissible.”

The matter is set to continue in the Court of Appeal today.

Jahmel Blakeney is led from Supreme Court One Thursday after being sentenced for the shooting at Southside Cinema in St Georges( Photo by Glenn Tucker )
Sanchey Grant is led from Supreme Court One Thursday after being sentenced for the shooting at Southside Cinema in St Georges( Photo by Glenn Tucker )

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Published March 06, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated March 05, 2014 at 11:29 pm)

Pair appeal attempted murder convictions

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