Don’t blame us!
Lawyer for Nation trio says it’s the company, not his clients, at fault
The lead lawyer representing three Nation Publishing Co. Limited employees made an attempt to have the case thrown out today.
Alair Shepherd, QC, made the no-case submission on behalf of Publisher Vivian-Anne Gittens, Editor-in-Chief Roy Morris and News Editor Sanka Price, who are charged with publishing an indecent photograph of two minors in the SATURDAY SUN on October 26, 2013.
After cross-examining the prosecution’s final witness, Shepherd swiftly made the submission to Magistrate Alliston Seale at the District ‘D’ Magistrates’ Court.
After a brief adjournment, Shepherd, with the assistance of fellow lawyer Ezra Alleyne, argued that the prosecution had presented no evidence to suggest any guilt on the part of the three defendants.
Furthermore, he stated that the prosecution should have brought the charge against the Nation Publishing Co Limited, rather than three of its employees.
“The prosecution has to show intent, and has to establish that a deed or physical act has been committed by the individual accused. I do not see any evidence presented by the prosecution that points to the accused showing the photo to anyone,” the attorney said.
“There is no evidence the prosecution has brought that shows the act was committed by the individual accused.”
Shepherd further argued that none of the accused could be held responsible for the publication of the photograph.
He revealed that while Gittens was a member of the Board, there was no evidence to suggest that the photograph was published with the active consent of the Board. He said this was underscored by the fact that no other Directors had been charged in the matter.
“The prosecution would have to show that each individual was responsible for, or caused the paper to publish the photograph, because that was the act of the company. The intention is not there,” Shepherd insisted.
He also said there was no evidence to show that the Alma Parris Memorial – the school both the boy and the girl in the photograph attended at the time – only had students up to the age of 16.
Due to this fact, Shepherd said none of the individuals charged were aware of the students’ ages prior to the picture being printed.
Additionally, he claimed that the photograph was only indecent to those persons who had seen the video and had made the connection between the two.
In his short argument, Alleyne said the picture showed “a male standing behind what may or may not be a female, because the picture was blurred.”
He explained that the narrative of the story assisted with the perception of the photograph. However, he pointed out that the story was not named in the charge against the Nation trio.
“With the naked eye one cannot make out anyone. Forensically, it is impossible to prove who the two people are in the picture.
“Even the two students cannot identify themselves with reference to anything in the picture,” he added.
Alleyne said there was no evidence to suggest that any of the accused showed the picture to anyone.
He too insisted that if anyone was at fault, it had to be the company.
“If anybody is guilty, it is the company. They cannot be guilty as officers of the company.”
After hearing the submission, Prosecutor Inspector Eustace Ifill agreed that the prosecution had raised some technical points, and asked for the matter to be adjourned to give himself, along with Sergeant Janice Ifill, a chance to respond.
The matter was then adjourned until next week Thursday.
Earlier, social worker Jennifer Walker told the court she was outraged, disturbed and saddened when she saw the photograph.
She also described it as “poor journalism and a disservice to the children.”
The three witnesses who testified yesterday all returned to court today to identify the photograph, which was carried on the back page of the newspaper.
Principal of the Alma Parris Memorial Valdez Francis also testified, saying that he could identify the people in the picture as students of his school “because of the shape of the tie which the boy was wearing”.