Just three days after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) urged police officers to be thorough in their investigations, a man accused of having almost 300 pounds of cannabis at his residence has walked free because of a lack of evidence.
The case against Wayne Dexter Reid was dismissed by Magistrate Douglas Frederick yesterday in the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court, after he upheld a no-case submission brought by the accused’s attorney-at-law Queen’s Counsel Andrew Pilgrim.
Reid had been charged with possession, possession with intent to supply and trafficking 282.7 pounds of cannabis on April 26, 2016.
The illegal drugs had a street value of over $500 000.
In his no-case submission, Pilgrim argued that the evidence produced did not link his client to the drugs.
“The police claimed they went at the house of the accused armed with a warrant to search, claimed they found the door ajar, entered the home and claimed they found drugs inside.
“Where police go to execute a warrant they ought to execute it in the presence of somebody. Even if the accused is not there, some other party should be there to acknowledge that the police came and did whatever they did and found whatever, they found,” he maintained.
“If that is not the case, then police can go into anybody’s home when no one is there and claim that they find any and everything in your absence and you have no defence to it whatsoever.”
The attorney-at-law said it would be tantamount to impropriety pursuant to Section 116 of the Evidence Act and it would mean that the probative value of that evidence would be outweighed by the prejudicial value.
After hearing Pilgrim’s submission, the magistrate agreed that the Crown had not built a strong enough case against the accused.
The court heard that police executed a search warrant at a residence where Reid was staying, but he was not home at the time.
They found the door slightly ajar and smelled a strong odor suspected to be cannabis emanating from the residence.
Police entered the house and after finding no one at home they conducted a search where they found the drugs contained in 16 packages in a bathtub.
Acting Assistant Superintendent Trevor Blackman prosecuted the case.
But in examining the evidence, the magistrate said the Crown was seeking to rely solely on the fact that the accused occupied the premises.
Frederick said the fact that the door was found ajar by police could be interpreted that other persons had access to the house.
The magistrate also pointed to the fact that while the accused’s brother said he lived at the house, when he was questioned, the accused said the house belonged to a female, but he had “some things” there.
However, Frederick said one of the most glaring errors was the fact that police never questioned the owner of the residence about whether the drugs belonged to her.
“The police were too hasty in the execution of their warrant,” the magistrate acknowledged.
Frederick said the Crown simply did not have enough evidence as the accused had denied any knowledge of the drugs, there was no confession and there was no evidence linking Reid to the drugs.
“The Crown does not have enough evidence to establish a prima facie case on the balance of probability,” the magistrate added.
On Monday while addressing a course at the Regional Security System, DPP Queen’s Counsel Donna Babb-Agard told the participants that they needed to submit “a well-prepared police file upon which prosecutors can rely”.