General — 27 June 2014 — by Rowland A. Parks

Submissions concluded late Tuesday evening in the Court of Appeal, which heard from attorneys representing five police officers who were charged with facilitating the landing of a drug plane, and from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, who appealed the acquittal of the accused lawmen.

The case was heard by Court of Appeal president Justice Manuel Sosa and Appeal Justices Samuel Awich and Dennis Morrison, who are expected to deliver their ruling on the appeal by Friday, June 27.

On November 13, 2010, a drug plane landed on the Southern Highway, between Miles 56 and 57. The twin-engine Beechcraft King Air 200, which was unable to take off on its own because it had clipped one of its wings in the landing, was carrying a cargo of 2,921 kilos of pure Columbian cocaine.

Six men, four police officers, a customs boatman and one civilian, were arrested and charged with facilitating the landing of the plane. The five accused men are Corporal Rene Grant, a former driver for the Governor General; Corporal Nelson Middleton, who at the time of his arrest was the Governor General’s current driver; Sergeant Lawrence Humes, Sergeant Jacinto Roches, Customs Department boatman Harold Usher and civilian Victor Logan.

The case against the men fell apart, however, when they went to trial in the Southern Session of the Supreme Court on December 20, 2012.

They appeared before Justice Dennis Hannomansingh, who directed the jury to acquit them, after he upheld a no-case-to-answer submission from the accused men’s attorneys.

The men are being represented at the appeal by attorneys Simeon Sampson, SC; Hubert Elrington, SC; and attorney Anthony Sylvestre.

In his submission, Sylvestre told the court that the appeal was not filed within the statutory period set out in the Court of Appeal Act. There is a twenty-one day window of opportunity during which the appeal should have been filed, Sylvestre submitted. The appeal should be dismissed, he told the court.

After considering Sylvestre’s submission, the court’s president, Justice Sosa, ruled to allow the DPP to make her submissions.

DPP Vidal appealed the acquittal on the grounds that the trial judge erred in law when he upheld the no-case submission.

In her submission, DPP Vidal went through a lengthy summary of the prosecution’s evidence, some of which was not heard by the jury, she told the court.

“A jury, if properly directed would have convicted the accused men,” Vidal submitted, and added, “the approach taken by the judge was incorrect.”

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