Decision awaited in murder appeal

After Devon Anglin was found not guilty of murdering four-year-old Jeremiah Barnes, the crown appealed his acquittal.

The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal is taking time to consider arguments heard this week about the 2011 judge-alone trial in which Devon Anglin, 27, was found not guilty of murdering a 4-year-old boy. No date has been set for a decision to be handed down. 

Jeremiah Barnes was in the back seat of a car driven by his father, Andy Barnes, when a gunman opened fire at the Hell Service station in West Bay on the night of 15 February, 2010. Mr. Barnes was not injured, but a bullet entered the side window, went past his head and through his headrest, hitting Jeremiah. The boy’s mother and brother were also in the car at the time. 

Jeremiah’s parents, both of whom knew Anglin, named him as the gunman. He was charged and chose to be tried by judge alone. Justice Howard Cooke heard evidence and delivered his not guilty verdict on 31 August, 2011. 

On Tuesday this week, attorney Andrew Radcliffe began arguments on behalf of the crown in an appeal against that verdict. Defence counsel John Ryder responded on behalf of Anglin and discussions continued for several hours on Wednesday. Both men were lead counsel during the trial. 

Toward the close of submissions, appeals court president Justice John Chadwick noted that this was an important case. He said it was important to Devon Anglin, the parents of the child and others. It was also important to the general public if a judge in a matter of this nature misdirected himself. 

He acknowledged that the verdict had attracted a great deal of comment at the time. “Let nothing suggest we don’t appreciate the importance of this case,” he said on behalf of Justice Elliot Mottley and Justice Ian Forte, who heard the appeal with him.  

At the end of the sitting, the court president said they would take time to look at the matter and put their reasons in writing before announcing a decision. 

He pointed out that if they dismissed the appeal, that would leave Anglin acquitted. 

If they were to allow the appeal, they would be obliged to direct a retrial; “If that were to happen, it would be important to have it sooner rather than later,” he said. 

“And if we take that view, we’ll have to be careful of what we say about the evidence,” Justice Chadwick said.  

In Justice Cooke’s reasons for his verdict, he said he found that the identification of Anglin by the boy’s parents was unreliable. He then concluded that the effect of the identification evidence was that the crown had not adduced evidence of any probative value which would permit him to look at any supporting evidence.  

Anglin is serving a sentence of imprisonment for life after being found guilty of murdering Carlo Webster at the Next Level Night Club in September 2009. The Court of Appeal has already dismissed his appeal of that conviction. 

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Police are visible on scene the day after the fatal shooting of 4-year-old Jeremiah Barnes in West Bay in February 2010. – Photo: File