Prison camera didn’t record ganja toss

Defect in system has now been rectified, witness says

The trial of Frederick George Miller that started last Thursday revealed a problem with the closed circuit television system at Northward Prison in 
October 2012. 

Miller is charged with possession of ganja with intent to supply, under the Misuse of Drugs Law, and smuggling under the 
Prisons Law. 

The crown’s case is that he threw a package of the illegal vegetable matter over the prison fence around 8pm on 25 October. The recovered item, exhibited in court, was sausage shaped, about 18 inches long and 4 inches in diameter. Laboratory analysis showed a weight of 327 grams or 11.5 ounces. 

Miller, 56 and of a George Town address, has pleaded not guilty. 

Prison officer Angelia Lawrence told the court she was working in the control room, observing cameras and the main radio contact. On camera, she saw a male person riding a bicycle along Sheffield Drive – the road on the side of the prison. 

Ms Lawrence narrated his progress. She explained that the lighting in the area was good “and our cameras can zoom in to the ground”. When the man got off his bicycle to open the gate, she zoomed down on the face and realised the person was Miller, whom she knew. There were no trees in the area and nothing obstructed her view. 

She said she notified security and the officer in charge of the shift but did not leave the camera. She saw Miller go back toward the “F Wing” and throw a long object over the prison fence. It landed inside F Wing yard. She said after “Fred” threw the package, he got back on his bicycle and went back the way he came. 

She continued to watch the object because she had seen a prisoner in that area. Then she saw an officer pick up the package. 

Defence attorney John Furniss asked if the camera system was working properly that day. 

“My cameras were working perfectly,” she replied. 

Mr. Furniss suggested that if the cameras were working, they should have recorded everything. 

Ms Lawrence said she didn’t have anything to do with the CCTV recording; that system was in a different area from where 
she worked. 

Police constable Raphael Williams later confirmed that when he asked prison officials for CCTV footage of the incident, he did not receive any. He said he was subsequently told that it was not available because “the device to record was down 
at the time”. 

Marlon Hodgson, manager of operations and security, agreed that CCTV footage was not available. Mr. Furniss asked who was responsible for the cameras or recording or the two working in synch. 

“Ultimately, I am. I am the person in charge of the unit,” Mr. Hodgson replied. 

Mr. Furniss wondered how long the system had not been working, but senior crown counsel Tanya Lobban objected to that question. 

Mr. Furniss then asked, “Has that defect been rectified?” 

Mr. Hodgson said yes. 

Magistrate Grace Donalds heard evidence from other prison officers who detailed where and how Miller was apprehended in an area of bush near the prison shortly after he was allegedly seen on camera. 

The police witness agreed that Miller had told him he had been working in that area cutting fence posts. He also agreed there was no forensic evidence from the package such as fingerprints or DNA. 

Ms Lobban closed the case for the crown and trial will continue on 15 August.