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JAMAICA-Witness mix-up

Cops produce wrong woman in rape case

KINGSTON –– The police in Hanover are now being accused of fabricating charges against a defence witness to cover up their blunder in a rape case that attorney Hugh Wildman has said showed up the ineptitude of the constabulary and prosecution in the matter.

“This shows the incompetence of the prosecution, and the judge had no basis in law to discharge the jury and deny my client the opportunity of an acquittal,” Wildman told the Jamaica Observer.

However, the police are claiming that the defence witness impersonated a prosecution witness and should be prosecuted.

According to a statement by a police detective inspector probing the matter, witness Jacqueline Fonseca told the police on November 6 that she was the prosecution’s main witness. As a result, the statement said, Fonseca was brought to court to give evidence for the prosecution as the police who went for her thought she was in fact the prosecution witness.

But in court, Fonseca said that none of the cops asked her name when they came for her.

Wildman told the Observer that Fonseca wasn’t surprised that the police had come for her, as Justice Marjorie Cole-Smith had said that she would have been picked up and brought to the Hanover Circuit Court at the appropriate time, due to the nature of her job.

The prosecution witness is the mother of a teenage girl who was allegedly raped by a neighbour in 2010. Fonseca was to give character evidence for the defendant. The trial started on November 5. The prosecution had sent the police to pick up the mother on November 6, but the cops, instead, brought in Fonseca.

But the police and Fonseca differ in their accounts about what transpired at the point of her being picked up.

Fonseca told the court that she wasn’t asked her name.

“It’s because I told the court that it was negligence on the part of the police why they are doing this,” Fonseca told the Observer Wednesday night, adding that she was tall and of dark complexion and the prosecution witness was short, clear and fat.

Fonseca said also that the investigating officer, who she said knows her, even invited her into the vehicle that she (the investigating officer) was in when she (Fonseca) was taken from home to the Sandy Bay Police Station before being taken to court.

Fonseca said the police officer in question commented on her weight and she gave a response but gave no thought to it.

Wildman said Fonseca was being targeted by the police because she pointed out their “negligence” in court.

“How could they say they mistook the lady for the mother when she was in court all the time?” Wildman asked. “That’s how they pick up people innocently.”

But according to the report by the detective inspector, Fonseca had identified herself as the prosecution witness. The report stated further that the officers who went to pick up the prosecution witness were in touch, via phone, with a woman who turned out to be Fonseca.

The report states that Fonseca had stopped the service vehicle and was allowed in when she gave her name as that of the prosecution’s main witness.

At the Sandy Bay Police Station, the report states, the police officer who investigated the rape case told Fonseca that she looked different from the last time she saw her and was told by Fonseca that she lost weight because of the chikungunya virus.

The report says further that the probe has turned up evidence of a possible conspiracy to aid the rape accused. The report recommends that a file be sent to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for action to be taken against Fonseca.

The prosecution did not call the mother of the alleged rape victim to testify and Justice Cole-Smith discharged the jury. The rape accused is to be retried in February next year, but Wildman said he would challenge any attempt to reindict his client.                

Source: (Jamaica Observer)

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