Mistrial motion denied

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An attempt by attorney Vincent Watson to have the case against Coast Guard Lieutenant David Harewood declared a mistrial was dismissed today.

Watson made the submission on the second day of the hearing at St Ann’s Fort, where Harewood is being court martialed on four offences, including two of “communicating with the enemy”.

Coast Guard Lieutenant David Harewood
Coast Guard Lieutenant David Harewood

Harewood faces charges that between August 7 and 10, 2018, without lawful authority knowingly communicated with Akem Waithe, alias Ellis, while using a cellular phone belonging to the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) and that on an unknown date in January 2018, he communicated with a well known drug trafficker.

Harewood also faces a charge that on an unknown date in January 2018, being a commissioned officer in the BDF, having knowledge of a threat to the life of a junior member, neglected to inform his superiors of such a threat.

Additionally, he is charged with conducting unauthorised information gathering operations, conduct unbecoming of a commissioned officer in the BDF.

During his cross examination of Ward Officer Christopher Blenman, the witness said he had received a statement from a person interviewed in the investigations.

When questioned, Blenman, who was part of a two-man team that offered the charges against Harewood, said the statement was “interrelated” with Harewood’s case.

However, Watson, who had raised the issue of not benefitting from full disclosure on previous occasions, revealed that he had no knowledge of any such statement from that individual.

The defence counsel then made a claim for the tribunal to declare a mistrial, stating that his client was being prejudiced as important information was not being shared with him.

He said that particular statement if there was indeed one, was “critical to his defence”.

Prosecutor Lieutenant Jamal Bourne then told the court that he had no such statement.

But Watson rebutted by pointing out that whether the prosecution was in possession of that statement did not nullify the fact that there was indeed one.

However, president Lieutenant Colonel Rohan Johnson ruled that since the prosecution had no such statement and would not be using it to prove its case, there was no ground for a mistrial to be declared.

While on the stand, Blenman admitted that while Harewood had been charged with both “communicating with the enemy” and “communicating with a well known drug trafficker”, up to the time of the charges being laid he had no evidence to suggest that.

Under cross examination from Watson, Blenman said he did not know Akem Waithe to be a drug trafficker, but he was a “suspected drug trafficker”.

Additionally, counsel suggested that Waithe did not meet the definition of being an “enemy” as defined by the Barbados Defence Force, which defined any such person as being armed.

As it related to the charge of conducting unauthorised information gathering operations, Blenman said there was no evidence the accused had been directed to do so by any superior, as was required.

Blenman also said the accused had not reported any findings of his investigations to a superior, or to the BDF’s Chief of Staff.

In fact, he said he only became aware Harewood had any knowledge of “sensitive information” when he was interviewed during the investigations.

The Ward Officer of 38 years also denied suggestions by the defense lawyer that information had been unlawfully retrieved from his client’s cellular phone.

Also taking the stand today was Sergeant Tina Barnett who executed the search warrant at Harewood’s residence.

She told the court that the warrant was also to seize any cellular phones or storage devices belonging to the accused as well as a Terrell Gibbons.

Due to the sensitive information of another witness, an in camera hearing was admitted.

The case continues tomorrow at 9 a.m.

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