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Supreme Court upholds dismissal of theft charges

The Supreme Court has found there was no evidence to convict a man accused of a 2016 bike theft and robbery.

Shayne James was charged with the two offences after his fingerprints were found on the stolen motorcycle and a helmet after a high-speed chase, but Magistrates’ Court found he had no case to answer.

Prosecutors appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, but Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams upheld the acquittal in a January 6 judgment.

Mrs Justice Subair Williams said: “Taking the Crown’s case at its highest, a reasonable inference can be made that the respondent at some point came into contact with the bike and the helmet.

“However, there was no expert opinion evidence before the magistrate from which he could have drawn a conclusion on the time frame during which the respondent had any such contact.

“The fingerprint evidence was, therefore, insufficient to establish that the respondent had contact with the bike and the helmet on any day in June 2016.”

The court heard that on that Veneta Alexiva reported that her bike had been stolen from outside her home overnight on May 27, 2016.

Franklyn Foggo was riding his bike on North Shore Road when another rider approached him on June 1.

The rider grabbed a pendant from a gold chain around Mr Foggo’s neck and sped off, but Mr Foggo was able to get the vehicle’s licence plate number.

The licence plate was the same as the one of the motorcycle stolen from Ms Alexiva.

A police officer on mobile patrol noticed the motorcycle being ridden on Dundonald Street in Hamilton an hour after the robbery.

The officer signalled to the rider to pull over, but the rider instead picked up speed, which sparked a high-speed chase through Hamilton.

The chase ended after the rider lost control on Curving Avenue, Pembroke, crashed into a staircase rail and escaped on foot.

The rider escaped, but officers recovered a black helmet, the motorcycle and a set of keys

Mr James’ fingerprints were later found on the helmet and the stolen motorcycle.

Mr James was arrested and charged with both the vehicle theft and the robbery, but denied the charges.

The case was brought to trial in Magistrates’ Court, but magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo ruled Mr James had no case to answer and dismissed the charges.

Mr Tokunbo found there was no evidence that Mr James had stolen the motorcycle and the evidence that linked him to the robbery was “weak and tenuous”.

Prosecutors launched an appeal to the Supreme Court in January 2020, arguing that the evidence before the court was sufficient to secure a conviction on both charges.

But Mrs Justice Subair Williams upheld the magistrate’s ruling that there was no evidence to support a conviction for the bike theft.

She said: “Ms Alexiva could only tell the court that her bike was stolen.

“In its aim to prove the count, the Crown hopelessly hedged its bets on securing a resulting inference that the person who robbed Mr Foggo on the stolen bike must also be the person who stole the bike from Ms Alexiva days prior.

“This, of course, is not necessarily so.”

Mrs Justice Subair Williams added that, in the case of the robbery, the identification evidence by officers was “inherently weak”, as the Crown had been unable to prove Mr James was the man police chased through Hamilton.

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Published January 13, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated January 12, 2021 at 2:47 pm)

Supreme Court upholds dismissal of theft charges

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