Identification was not ‘fleeting glimpse’
Lance Myles, found guilty by a jury
of attempted murder, had his appeal against that conviction
The Court of Appeal handed down its reasons last
Thursday and affirmed Myles’ sentences of 20 years for attempted murder and 15
years concurrent for possession of an unlicensed firearm.
Myles was convicted in June 2009.
He was 21 at the time.
The Crown’s case was never that
Myles was the person who shot and wounded Adolphus Myrie on 31 May, 2008.
Rather, Myles was the driver of the vehicle from which another person fired
The shooting took place sometime
after 2am along School House Lane, George Town. There was a street light in
front of the yard where the victim
and friends had gathered.
One of the men present said he knew
Myles and got a look at him as the shooter was withdrawing his arm back into
the car. He recognised Myles by his hair, slim face and big eyes.
He also recognised Myles’ car, a
black 2008 Mazda 6 – the only one of its kind on the Island.
When the car was found days later, it was found to contain gunshot residue.
Attorney John Furniss did not
appear for Myles at trial, but argued his appeal. He asked whether the witness
was identifying Myles or the car. The fact that the car belonged to Myles did
not confirm him as the driver, Mr. Furniss pointed out.
He suggested that witnesses would
not have been calm and objective
when bullets were flying and their state of mind was such that they could have
The judges pointed to the evidence
that one of the witnesses said the car stopped in front of the yard and he
observed Myles’ face for 10 seconds, during which time he was able to recognise
him. He was sure it was Myles.
Another witness thought the car had
stopped for seven seconds.
The appeal was filed on the basis
that the verdict was unreasonable and unsafe, in that the quality of the
identifying evidence was poor. A second ground was that the trial judge erred
in law by failing to accept a submission of no case to answer at the close of
the Crown’s case.
In their judgment, the Court of
Appeal pointed out that, since the Defence did not offer any evidence, the
Crown’s case was the same that was left to the jury. The two grounds were
therefore dealt with together.
Special care has to be taken when
identifying evidence depends solely on a fleeting glance, or on a longer
observation made in difficult conditions, the judges agreed.
In such circumstances the trial
judge withdraws the case from the jury and directs an acquittal unless there is
other evidence that goes to support the correctness of the identification.
In this case, the visual
identification evidence was supported by the evidence of the identification of
“It could be said that the visual
identification was made in difficult conditions, as shots were being fired from
the car at the time. However, in our view 10 seconds in the circumstances cannot
be described as ‘a fleeting glance’,” the judges wrote.
During the appeal, they noted, it
had not been argued that the trial judge did not properly direct the jury. He
had said the ownership of the car was a relevant factor. If the jurors were
satisfied the car was Myles’ car it might help them to come to a conclusion.
The test for an unreasonable and
unsafe verdict is that no reasonable jury properly directed could have reached
the conclusion it did.
Sitting for this session of the
Court of appeal were Sir John Chadwick, president; Justice Ian Forte; and
Justice Abdullah Conteh.