Failing technology led to a verdict of not guilty in Grand Court on Monday when a video link between Cayman and Canada could not be re-established.
Efforts had been made over three days to contact the complainant/victim in a charge of unlawful wounding. Defendant Jerome Jamaine Cunningham, 24, had pleaded not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to a co-worker at an Eastern Avenue barber shop in November 2016.
The Crown’s case was that Mr. Cunningham had hit the other man in the face with a cricket bat after an argument about money Mr. Cunningham said was owed to him by the other man.
Medical evidence and photos indicated that the man sustained a three-centimeter laceration to the right of his right eye, which required sutures, plus corresponding bone and soft tissue injury.
Trial began on Monday last week, with jury selection and evidence on Tuesday. On Thursday, the victim/complainant began his evidence. Since the incident, he had moved to Canada and so communication was between his home and the courtroom via video link, which the Evidence Law permits.
Senior Crown counsel Nicole Petit had finished taking the man through his evidence and defense attorney Jonathon Hughes had begun questioning him when the video portion of the link froze. Then the video resumed and the audio was lost.
Court was adjourned until Friday while efforts were made to re-establish clear communication. On Friday, the Crown was still unable to communicate with the complainant. Justice Carter said she had considered the matter very carefully and concluded that the complainant should be allowed to complete his evidence.
“Justice demands that he be given the opportunity,” she told jurors.
The judge said she was allowing the Crown a final opportunity to resume contact with the complainant and she asked jurors to come back one more time.
On Monday, she advised jurors that Ms. Petit had informed her that morning that she was unable to produce the witness to finish his evidence. The judge pointed out that the complainant was one of the main witnesses in the case.
The judge explained that the Crown was offering no further evidence in the case.
“I agree with them, that if that is the case, that really there is insufficient evidence for your consideration in the matter,” the judge told jurors. “The Crown have to reach a certain threshold and, if it is that they intend to offer no further evidence, that threshold is not reached.”
On that basis, she directed the jury foreman to formally return a verdict of not guilty on behalf of the jury, which he did.
Mr. Cunningham was discharged in this case, but was remanded in custody because he is awaiting sentence on charges arising from the February 2017 attempted robbery of an armored truck on Eastern Avenue.