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Trott-Edwards to face retrial

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Kiahna Trott-Edwards will face a retrial after her conviction and sentence for murdering a teenage boy was set aside.

The mother of three, 33, was found guilty last year of murdering Shijuan Mungal, 16, by striking him around the head with a baseball bat during a confrontation outside her Warwick home on September 8, 2014.

She was later jailed for life by Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons, who ordered that she serve a minimum of eight years behind bars before she could be considered for parole.

However, in handing down the judgment yesterday Appeal Judge Geoffrey Bell said that there had been a “regrettable series of errors”, including Mrs Justice Simmons “adopting a dictatorial attitude” and not being prepared to listen to submissions by defence counsel Courtney Griffiths in the absence of the jury.

The judgment, written by Court of Appeal president Justice Sir Scott Baker, added that another error was a failing by Mr Griffiths to put to prosecution witnesses an integral part of his client's defence, “namely that the deceased had ducked before the second blow was struck”. Mr Justice Bell added that prosecuting counsel also failed to engage with counsel for the defence, who was trying to explain that the failure was not the appellant's fault.

“Thereafter the trial proceeded on a false footing,” Mr Justice Bell continued. “Prosecuting counsel continued to cross-examine the appellant on the false basis that fabricated the contention that the deceased had ducked when she was in the witness box, when in truth she had not. The same point was made in the prosecution's final speech and by the judge summing up.”

He added that there had been a strong case against the appellant in “a number of respects”, namely that the blow was of “considerable force” and “there was independent evidence that she was the aggressor”.

But he said: “Errors of the kind that occurred are perhaps all the more important in such circumstances where the bottom line is whether the trial was fair.”

He added that the Court of Appeal agreed with then-Director of Public Prosecutions, Rory Field, “that the issue whether or not the appellant ducked was an important one”.

Mr Justice Bell said a jury may have considered it relevant, adding that the way in which the matter was handled also reflected adversely on Ms Trott-Edwards's credibility.

“We cannot in these circumstances conclude that the conviction for murder is safe,” he said.

“Accordingly we set aside the conviction and sentence.

“In these circumstances it is unnecessary to rule on the other grounds of appeal against conviction. It is also inappropriate to hear argument on the Crown's appeal against the minimum term to be served, the sentence of life imprisonment having been set aside.

“Any application for bail is to be made to a judge of the Supreme Court.”

Mr Justice Bell ordered a new trial and Larry Mussenden, the Director of Public Prosecutions, asked that the matter be mentioned at the September arraignments.

To see the full judgment, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”.

It is The Royal Gazette's policy not to allow comments on stories regarding criminal court cases. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

Second chance: Kiahna Trott-Edwards at a previous court hearing (File photograph by Akil Simmons)
Fresh hope for accused: Kiahna Trott-Edwards has had her life sentence set aside for causing the death of Shijuan Mungal and will face a retrial (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published August 03, 2016 at 12:13 pm (Updated August 04, 2016 at 7:33 am)

Trott-Edwards to face retrial

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