Magistrate Grace Donalds is expected to give her verdict on Thursday after hearing evidence in the trial of Javonnie Silburn, who is accused of shining a laser at a police helicopter.
Silburn, now 22, admitted shining a red laser beam at the aircraft one time while it was over East End on the night of April 29, 2015.
But Crown counsel Emma Hutchinson said the plea was not acceptable on that basis. Silburn then pleaded not guilty to the charge causing harassment, alarm or distress. Trial began in September, but had to be adjourned because one of the police witnesses was on a hurricane relief mission in Turks and Caicos.
That witness, Neil Mohammed, gave his evidence last week. He said he was the technical officer operating the infrared camera aboard the helicopter. He said he saw the individual on the ground “with his hand raised on numerous occasions.”
The magistrate asked what he meant by “numerous,” and Mr. Mohammed replied, “No less than three.”
Questioned by Ms. Hutchinson and then by defense attorney John Furniss, he explained that he was on the right side of the aircraft with the camera. The tactical officer, Gustavo Rodrigues, sat on the left side, made his observations and instructed Mr. Mohammed on where to point the camera.
Mr. Mohammed said he initially had the camera on wide angle, but then Mr. Rodrigues instructed him to “narrow down” and when he did, Mr. Rodrigues said yes, that was what he wanted.
He said the individual had a distinctive Afro hairstyle and he saw no on else with that hairstyle. He agreed he could not say with certainty there was no other person with that hairstyle in the crowd.
Mr. Mohammed said he focused the helicopter camera on the individual as instructed by Mr. Rodrigues and he saw officers on the ground make contact with that person. He could not say they arrested him but he did see them “take hold of one specific individual.” They had been specifically instructed by Mr. Rodrigues to that individual and no one else.
Mr. Mohammed did not know that individual and was not asked to attend an identification parade. He said there was “an issue” with the system at the time, so the incident had not been recorded.
He said he was “100 percent sure” that officers on the ground had detained the right person because he had followed that person with the camera.
Following the close of the Crown’s case, Silburn gave evidence that he had shone the laser just once. He thought he had an Afro-style hair style at the time of the incident, but it was “not that high at that time.” He mainly repeated what he had told police when interviewed, except that he now knew the name of the man who had the laser initially. He revealed that name to the court.
In her closing speech, Ms. Hutchinson referred to evidence from police who had seen the laser at ground level as they drove in the vicinity of the East End cemetery. She pointed out that the laser had caused distress: at least one officer thought it was attached to a firearm and felt vulnerable. The helicopter had been called for as a result.
Mr. Furniss reminded the court that Silburn had been consistent in his admission that he had shone the laser just one time.
The magistrate set Thursday, Oct. 19, for delivery of her verdict.