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Mills loses appeal over fatal shootings

A man jailed for the fatal shooting of two men has lost an appeal against his conviction.

Lawyers for Romano Mills argued the jury should not have heard evidence from Christoph Duerr, his co-accused who was convicted of being an accessory to the shooting after the fact, but the Court of Appeal found the jury had been properly warned about the nature of his evidence.

In a July 27 judgment, Appeal Judge Sir Scott Baker said: “Notwithstanding doubts about his credibility in other respects, the prosecution was entitled to conclude his implication of the appellant was worthy of belief.

“It was a matter for the jury to decide whether they accepted or rejected his evidence.

“They had, of course, to be given an appropriate warning about the dangers of accepting his evidence as he was an accomplice, but there is no complaint about the judge’s direction to the jury on this.”

Mills was one of four men jailed in connection with the 2013 murders of Rico Furbert and Haile Outerbridge, who were fatally shot in Belvin’s Variety Store on Happy Valley Road.

Prosecutors argued LeVeck Roberts was the gunman while Mills and Gariko Benjamin were “aiders and abettors” at the scene.

Duerr was accused of being an “armourer”, providing the gun used in the fatal shooting.

Mills was found guilty of two counts of premeditated murder among other offences including using a firearm.

He was sentenced to serve at least 25 years for the murder charges, and another ten years for the other sentences, with the periods to run consecutively.

Elizabeth Christopher, Mills’s lawyer, argued the court should not have allowed Duerr to give evidence and also said the evidence of Duerr’s ex-girlfriend should not have been read to the jury as it prevented any ability to cross-examine her.

Mr Justice Baker said: “The appellant’s inability to cross-examine the witness at the trial did not mean that her evidence was necessarily unchallenged.

“He was able to rely on portions of her evidence at the earlier trial, of which there was a transcript, and draw attention to inconsistencies with her recorded interview.

“Furthermore, he could himself have given evidence but, in accordance with his rights, chose not to.”

The Appeal Panel also upheld the Supreme Court decision to allow Duerr to give evidence in the case and dismissed the appeal.

Mr Justice Baker added: “The case against the Appellant was based on circumstantial evidence.

“He did not seek to refute the inferences that could properly be drawn from this evidence with his own evidence and the jury was left to draw inferences from the evidence that they had.

“The key witness was Duerr, whose evidence the prosecution accepted was essential to their case.

“The judge gave an appropriate warning about the evidence of an accomplice and the jury clearly accepted his evidence.”

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