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Witness had jaw broken by accused, court told

A witness who claims an accused killer confessed fatally shooting Rickai Swan denied that his story was “riddled with lies” during cross-examination.

While the witness had claimed that Shantoine Prinston Burrows admitted shooting Mr Swan around a month after the murder, he said yesterday that he had not mentioned that Mr Burrows had broken his jaw over a stolen watch on the same day as the confession.

And he admitted a Facebook conversation in which he wrote that police had been investigating him for a series of offences including an armed robbery, telling a friend: “It was him or me.”

Mr Burrows, 25, has denied charges of murdering Mr Swan and shooting another man, Damiko Gibbons, in an incident on October 23 last year at the Southampton Rangers Sports Club.

A second man, 22-year-old Taj Browne, has denied being an accessory after the fact. Testifying on Tuesday, the witness, who can no longer be identified due to an order by Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons, told the court that on the evening of the shooting, Mr Burrows had refused to give him a ride to town saying “if the police come, he was going to shoot at police and he didn't want me to get in the way”.

He claimed that Mr Burrows later left the group on the way to Hamilton, saying he was going to “handle his business”, and later messaged a member of the group asking for a ride.

The witness said that Mr Browne went to pick up Mr Burrows and, when he returned, detailed a version of the shooting purportedly as described to him by Mr Burrows. He said Mr Burrows recounted the story himself around a month later at a gathering at the witness's home.

However, under cross-examination by defence lawyer Marc Daniels, representing Mr Burrows, Mr Daniels suggested that the witness had invented the entire story and “sold his soul to purchase a better life”.

Questioned by Mr Daniels, the witness admitted that he had been unemployed and had burgled homes in the time before the shooting, and that he was sentenced to a period of imprisonment on the day after the alleged confession. While he maintained that he had been friends with Mr Burrows, he accepted that the defendant was not someone who would confide in him.

And he acknowledged that on the day of the confession, Mr Burrows had broken his jaw over a stolen watch.

Mr Daniels asked: “Your relationship with Prinston is not one that he confides in you but, not withstanding that, you want the jury to accept that he came and confessed murder in front of you and this whole group and then afterwards just broke your jaw over a stolen watch?”

The witness responded “yes”, and denied a later suggestion by Mr Daniels that the confrontation over the watch was his only interaction with Mr Burrows that day.

While the witness no longer resides on the island, he accepted under cross-examination that in March he contacted a friend after learning of the death of a mutual friend.

During the subsequent conversation, the witness was asked about “all the lies in the statement”, to which the witness responded: “It is what it is, bra. I'm not proud of it, but s***. They got me. They tried to hit me high. It was me or him.” Asked for clarification about what he meant, he wrote to the friend: “Wit the shop and all these other hits.”

Questioned by Mr Daniels about what he meant by “the shop”, he agreed that he was referring to an armed robbery at Maxi Mart.

“The police were coming down on you hard about that along with a slew of other offences,” Mr Daniels said, to which the witness agreed.

However, the witness repeatedly denied having lied about Mr Burrows's confession to better himself, maintaining that his version of events was true.

The trial continues.

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Published September 15, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated September 15, 2016 at 4:05 am)

Witness had jaw broken by accused, court told

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