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Man given life sentence for ‘public execution’ set to appeal conviction

A man dealt a life sentence for a 2018 fatal shooting described by prosecutors as a “public execution” is set to appeal his conviction.

According to the Court of Appeal’s draft cause list, Taaj Muhammad is set to appeal his conviction for the murder of 30-year-old Ronniko Burchall during the court’s November session.

Muhammad was sentenced this year to serve at least 35 years behind bars for the murder of Mr Burchall, who was shot fatally outside St David’s County Cricket Club just after 1.30am on December 29, 2018.

While Muhammad maintained his innocence, a former girlfriend, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, told the court that he had confessed months after the murder.

She said he had told her that he had later swum across St George’s Harbour and dropped the firearm in the ocean in the process.

The witness said she did not tell the police about the confession until July 2020 because she feared for her life.

The witness identified Muhammad as the gunman in CCTV footage, while she and another witness told the court they recognised him in footage from inside the club hours before the shooting.

His case is one of several set to be heard during the court’s November sitting.

The court is also expected to hear an appeal from Tyshaun Brown, who fatally stabbed his father, Amon Brown, after a fight on July 8, 2020.

Brown was sentenced to serve at least 12 years of a life sentence after he pleaded guilty to a charge of manslaughter this year.

The summary of evidence said Brown hit his father and knocked him off the porch, punched him several times, then went inside and told his mother that he was going to “get a knife to kill Amon because he deserved to die”.

Brown handed the phone to his mother, who called 911 as her son grabbed a knife and stabbed his father several times.

Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams said Brown may still suffer from the trauma of seeing his sister die in a road accident, but that he had put himself in a position that allowed the brutal attack to take place.

The draft cause list also includes the appeal of Terrance Walker, who was convicted this year of causing the death of 18-year-old Jen-Naya Simmons by careless driving.

The court heard Ms Simmons died in a traffic collision on North Shore Road in Hamilton parish in the early hours of July 15, 2018 as she travelled east.

While Walker maintained his innocence in the Supreme Court, witnesses said they saw a van moving west in the area on or over the centre line shortly before the collision.

Another witness said she had seen a silver van travelling west turn off its lights moments before she came across the scene of the collision. A short while later, the witness said she saw the same van ride through the scene of the fatal collision travelling in the opposite direction and stop briefly.

A silver van was identified on CCTV footage on North Shore Road near the time of the collision and was found to be registered to Mr Walker. The same vehicle was seen later travelling in the opposite direction away from the scene.

Walker was found guilty by a majority verdict, but has not been sentenced.

The Court of Appeal will also hear an appeal by Jamel Simons, who was found guilty in Magistrates’ Court of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old schoolgirl in 2002 when he was 19.

While Simons admitted that he did have sex with the teenager, he denied that he had forced himself upon her.

Simons previously appealed the conviction in the Supreme Court, but Mrs Justice Subair Williams upheld the conviction after she found the evidence supported the victim’s claim that he had used force on her after she changed her mind about sexual contact with Simons.

The court is also expected to hear several civil matters during its November session.

Among the listed civil matters are the appeal of Cheyra Bell, who was fired from her position as a childcare worker in 2019 for gross misconduct after she admitted drinking on the job.

Ms Bell had asked the Supreme Court to quash the decision because the investigation was flawed and she was not given a fair opportunity to respond to the allegations, but her termination was upheld last year by Chief Justice Narinder Hargun.

The court will also hear an appeal by Terry-Lynn Thompson, a civil servant who was refused the role of director of parks after she was initially offered the position.

The Supreme Court ruled last year that the Public Service Commission should give Ms Thompson an opportunity to respond to any reasons why the offer had been withdrawn.

However, Ms Thompson launched an appeal against the decision, seeking to have the court order her appointment and grant her consequential relief.

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