Man jailed for attempted murder loses appeal against conviction
A man convicted of attempted murder in connection with a daylight shooting on Court Street has had his conviction upheld by the Court of Appeal.
Jahmico Trott was found guilty by a majority verdict last year of a Mother’s Day 2017 shooting which left a man with minor injuries.
Trott argued in the Court of Appeal that his conviction should be overturned because of the trial judge’s handling of gunshot residue evidence, but Justice of Appeal Sir Maurice Kay said he was “unmoved” by the arguments.
“As the judge had made clear early in his summation, the primary issue in the case was that of recognition and the reliability of the testimony of [the witnesses],” he said. “That was addressed scrupulously by the judge.”
The Supreme Court had heard that on May 14, 2017, the victim – who cannot be identified for legal reasons – was at the home of his cousin on Court Street when they heard a knock on the door.
The men looked out from a balcony and saw a man in black with a red scarf over his face at the door.
The victim’s cousin spoke to the man at the door and recognised his voice as Trott. He said that he shut the door after he saw a gun in the man’s hand.
The court heard that Trott then climbed onto the balcony, while the victim and his cousin ran from the apartment. Trott chased the victim onto Court Street and fired four shots at him before the two began to fight in the road.
When a bystander attempted to break them up, Trott fired two more shots, one of which grazed the victim’s head, before the victim broke free and ran to the Hamilton Police Station.
Meanwhile Trott ran to a waiting motorcycle and attempted to ride away before he collided with a car on Union Street. He then abandoned the motorcycle and fled on foot.
He was arrested the following day at the home of his girlfriend, where police found a bulletproof vest.
Officers also discovered a significant number of particles consistent with gunshot residue on the abandoned bike, while tests of Trott’s hands following his arrest revealed particles which contained two of the three components of gunshot residue.
Trott was convicted of the offence in 2018, however the conviction was later overturned because Trott’s lawyer in his original trial failed to call the defendant’s girlfriend as a defence witness.
During a retrial last year, the court heard that while in Westgate Correctional Facility Trott spoke to the victim’s cousin through a door and asked him why he had testified against him in the initial trial.
The court heard that Trott made allegations about the victim, threatened the witness and urged him to sign an affidavit to say the evidence he had given was false.
Trott said that he had nothing to do with the shooting, but he was found guilty of attempted murder, handling a firearm and witness intimidation by a verdict of 11 to one.
Richard Horseman, who represented Trott in the Court of Appeal, argued the trial judge, Puisne Judge Craig Attridge, had reversed the burden of proof when discussing the gunshot residue evidence in his summation to the jury.
However Sir Maurice said in a decision dated August 15 the judge had not gone that far.
“Whilst it is true that, when dealing with this part of the case, the judge did not expressly state that it was for the Crown to disprove innocent explanations, and not for the defence to establish them, I do not construe his words as being anything other than consistent with that proposition,” he said.
“He had, of course, given trenchant directions on the burden and standard of proof earlier in the summation, stating that there was no burden on the appellant ‘whatsoever’ to prove his innocence, and that the burden of proof remained on the Crown ‘throughout’.”
The Justice of Appeal also dismissed an argument that evidence of the bulletproof vest at the home where Trott was arrested would taint the verdict.
“It was part of the appellant’s case that he and his friends were in the habit of selling drugs, including cocaine, in and around Court Street and has previous convictions for other offences which were properly before the jury,” he said.
“In these circumstances, and having regard to the extremely limited references to the bulletproof vest at the retrial, I cannot conceive that the admission of the evidence was, in the event, as damaging to the appellant as Mr Horseman submits.”
And while Mr Horseman argued that Trott was hindered in his ability to cross examine witnesses about text messages, which he claimed would help show the witness was a drug addict, Sir Maurice said Mr Justice Attridge’s decision was justifiable.
“The judge committed no legal error, although it is arguable that he could have been a little more generous,” he said.
“This is a grey area and it is well established that it is one that is primarily for the trial judge and that an appellate court will only interfere if his decision was wrong in principle or plainly wrong as being outside the wide ambit of discretion.”
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