Crown’s appeal against acquittal postponed
The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal by Devon Anglin against his conviction for the 2009 murder of Carlo Webster at the Next Level Night Club.
Anglin’s sentence of imprisonment for life was confirmed Friday.
Court president Sir John Chadwick announced the decision Friday and indicated that reasons would be handed down later. The court heard arguments last Monday and Tuesday. On the basis that Anglin, 26, was not in custody for any other matter, the judges agreed that he should know the outcome of his appeal as soon as possible.
In reading the decision, Justice Chadwick noted that Anglin was convicted on 20 January, 2012, after he elected trial by judge alone. Chief Justice Anthony Smellie heard the evidence on counts of murder, possession of an unlicensed firearm and the attempted murder of Chris Solomon, who was wounded but has since recovered.
The offences took place around 1.30am on the night of 9-10 September, 2009. Mr. Webster, 36, was shot three times inside the club, where there was an estimated 300 people. He died at the scene from wounds to his head and body. One of the bullets passed through Mr. Webster and hit Mr. Solomon.
Anglin’s trial attorneys, Dorian Lovell-Pank and Lucy Organ, argued the appeal.
At trial, the Crown relied mainly on two witnesses present at the time of the shooting. They gave evidence under witness anonymity orders made by Justice Charles Quin last year August.
The issue was identification of Anglin as the gunman. Anonymous Witness B, who said he had known Anglin for 10 years, detailed to the court during trial how he saw Anglin shoot Mr. Webster three times. Anonymous Witness E did not know Anglin, but described a man walking past him after the shooting and putting a gun in his waist pants.
At the close of the prosecution’s case, the defence invited the chief justice to lift those orders so that these witnesses could be cross-examined with their identities known. The chief justice declined.
Anglin’s attorneys argued that the verdicts were unsafe and unsatisfactory because the witnesses were either inconsistent or contradictory and the defence had been unable to test those inconsistencies.
As for the attempted murder – for which Anglin received 20 years – the attorneys argued the trial judge had misdirected himself in law because the charge requires intent and there was no evidence that the gunman, whoever he was, intended to murder Mr. Solomon. During the trial, Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards, who was assisted by Crown Counsel Elisabeth Lees, submitted that the charge could be attempted murder on the basis of transferred malice.
In responding on behalf of the Crown to appeal arguments, David Perry pointed out that the Crown had acknowledged inconsistencies. He argued that if investigators had gone back to the witnesses to question them further, they could have been accused of coaching the witnesses. He said it was considered better for the defence to explore those inconsistencies.
Anglin did not give evidence at his trial, nor did he call witnesses. Anglin was at the club that night and by his plea of not guilty he had said he did not shoot Webster, so there was nothing for him to add, his attorney said at the trial.
On Friday, the appeal court president said he, Justice Elliott Mottley and Justice Sir Anthony Campbell had carefully considered all of the arguments and had examined the confidential material that led to the making of the witness anonymity orders before reaching their conclusion. The material included an unedited segment from the night club’s closed circuit television cameras.
In a separate matter, the Crown was scheduled to appeal against Anglin’s acquittal in the February 2010 murder of 4-year-old Jeremiah Barnes, who was fatally shot while in the back seat of a car driven by his father. That appeal was set for 30 November, but Ms Organ applied for an adjournment on the basis that Anglin’s attorney in that matter was not available due to unexpected delays in a British trial in which he was involved.
The Crown did not object to an adjournment in those circumstances. Anglin, when asked in open court if he was content, replied, “I’m fine with that.” The matter was set for the court’s April session.