Defendant tells court his car broke down

Tareek Ricketts denies seeing crown witnesses the night he is accused of shooting Jackson Rainford 

Tareek Ricketts, on trial for the murder of Jackson Rainford, told the court this week that he was driving his distinctive vehicle at the various times it was recorded by the national road camera system on Sunday, 16 December, 2012. 

He is accused of firing three gunshots and killing Mr. Rainford that night outside a Shedden Road premises; 911 received a report of the shooting at 10.31pm. A CCTV camera showed Mr. Ricketts’ vehicle on Crewe Road, entering Smith Road at 10.30.51pm. 

The defendant said he had waited in the churchyard near the home of Terina Tomlinson, his former girlfriend, for her to come home with their two children. His last call to her was at 9.37pm to find out if she was on her way home. He then drove off toward Prospect, but his car shut down near the Mango Tree restaurant and he had to pull over. 

Mr. Ricketts said that he had been having electrical problems and a mechanic had temporarily fixed the car. At 9.40pm he said he called Dale Vernon, a friend he usually called when anything like that happened. He said Mr. Vernon told him he was on his way down from East End. 

At 10.20pm, he was still on the side of the road. Asked if he saw anyone, he replied that he wasn’t really looking because he was waiting for Mr. Vernon. He was fiddling with the car, trying to get it started and finally did. He let it run a bit and turned it off and on again before leaving and driving past the CCTV at 10.31pm. He said he went to his grandmother’s house in Tropical Gardens to properly tape up the wire.  

He said he did not see Mr. Vernon or Ms Tomlinson that night.  

The jury of four men and eight women heard Ms. Tomlinson’s evidence last week, including an incident she said had occurred when she got home that Sunday night. 

Ms Tomlinson said Jackson Rainford and his brother, Che, took her and the children home, with Che driving. As they got to her yard, she saw three men in the churchyard. When the car stopped, she saw one of the men walking toward her, but she could not see who it was. Then the person got into the light and it looked like Tareek. “I could see his face. He looked upset.” He was wearing a black hoodie jacket. She said she told Che to drive “because I don’t want me and my baby-father to have any problems”.  

When they got back to her house, Mr. Vernon was in the yard and he helped her with the children. Walking to her house, she turned and saw someone with a black jacket with the hood over his head and a gun in his hand walking toward the car. She did not see the person’s face – “just the same jacket Tareek had on, the person had on”. 

The jurors also heard from Mr. Vernon, who gave his evidence via video link, as he no longer lives in Cayman. Mr. Vernon said he had been in East End that Sunday night and drove back to George Town. About 9.45pm, he went to drop off his friend, who lived in the house in front of Ms Tomlinson. 

He said he went to park in the churchyard and saw Mr. Ricketts sitting there by himself. He and the friend went and sat and talked with him. 

Mr. Vernon’s evidence was summarised by defence counsel John Ryder, who asked his client if this account was what had happened. Mr. Vernon had said that while he was with Mr. Ricketts, a white Honda appeared and Mr. Ricketts became bothered by that because his children were in the car and it was late and they were with another man. “Did any of that happen?” Mr. Ryder asked. “No, sir,” the defendant replied. 

“He suggested you might follow the other car and you set out to do so. Did that happen?” Mr. Ryder asked. Again the defendant replied, “No, sir.” 

Among the evidence that the defence and prosecution agreed on was the fact that Mr. Ricketts was not with his new girlfriend at the time Jackson Rainford was shot. 

The defendant agreed he had told police he was with her that evening. Questioned by his attorney and Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards, he said it was not his intention to make them believe he had been with her the entire evening. He said he knew the police were interested in the time of the murder and he was with his girlfriend when he heard about it. 

Mr. Ricketts said he did not tell police about his car breaking down because they didn’t ask for details of his whereabouts. Later, he was taking legal advice and it wouldn’t look good to answer some questions and not answer all. He had said in a prepared statement that he wasn’t going to answer any more questions.  

The case for the defence was closed on Tuesday afternoon. Justice Alexander Henderson requested jurors to return at 2pm on Wednesday for closing arguments by Ms Richards and Mr. Ryder.