The successful submissions by attorneys on behalf of Damean Seymour and Matio Dinall were based on the weakness, vagueness and inconsistencies in the evidence of the three principal witnesses.
On behalf of Damean, Stephen Pownall QC commented on the significant differences in the witnesses’ accounts. ‘They are so profound – one would be bound to wonder whether each was observing the same event.’
All three were addicted to cocaine; all three used it the night of the murder. All three witnesses made retraction statements at some stage.
The first witness sought to implicate the third witness by saying he had been given a gun to dispose of.
The second witness contradicted the others as to where Damean was before the shooting.
The third witness heard the second witness say ‘Somebody shot Joe’ – not ‘Debo shot Joe’.
This third witness described the pressure he was put under, his beating and time in custody. This evidence was undisputed and uncontradicted.
On behalf of Matio, Trevor Burke QC pointed out that the Crown’s case was one of common design – that Matio was not the shooter, but was assisting in a way the court could consider criminal.
Among points he raised was the turning off of the porch light. The Crown’s opening had presented this as an act in preparation for the shooting. It allowed no other explanation. Then the Crown’s own witness explained that they turned the light off when they were doing drugs.
The first witness had Matio asking Joe for a light and Joe flicking a lighter. But the evidence was that everybody scattered after the shooting; police attended soon after and sealed the area. ‘There was no lighter,’ he pointed out.
Mr. Burke asserted that the first witness was ‘totally indifferent’ to the effect of his lies on others.
Only this witness put Matio near Joe. To accept the Crown’s case, the court would have to conclude that the other two witnesses were truthful in their accounts regarding Damean, but mistaken regarding Matio.
But even if the first witness had been accurate, the Crown still had the problem of establishing ‘common design,’ Mr. Burke submitted.
In response, Senior Crown Counsel Adam Roberts pointed out that the first witness ‘was not shaken’ on his evidence that Damean left the porch and shot Joe and Matio walked with him after asking that the porch light be turned off.
The third witness put both defendants on the porch, said Matio asked for the light to be turned off and said he saw Damean walking toward Joe.
Mrs. Justice Priya Levers adjourned for several hours to write her decision.
In it, she commented that the police investigation centred around the first witness – it appeared that whoever he pointed his finger at was arrested.
She said it was surprising that the allegation of the third witness being beaten was uncontradicted.
The first witness had admitted lying in four of five statements he made to police and he admitted in cross-examination that even the truthful statement contained lies.
As to Matio, there was no evidence against him except reference to the porch light and the lighter and this was destroyed by the Crown’s own evidence.
As to Damean, the only witness who put a gun in this defendant’s possession also gave a statement naming somebody else as having the gun. No other witness saw a gun.
In assessing the evidence as a whole, she found there was no credible evidence to put to the jury and there was no case to answer.
Mr. Pownall was instructed by Attorney Laurance Aiolfi, Mr. Burke by Attorney David McGrath.