Scott: ‘I just obeyed orders’

| 01/10/2009

(CNS): As the trial of Deputy Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon entered its third day, the jury heard from former RCIPS Inspector Burmon Scott, who testified that Dixon was the one who told him to let Rudolph Evans go on the night the retired deputy commissioner had been arrested on a DUI in April 2004. The court also heard how Scott had been offered immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony by the Operation Tempura team, which had arrested him in connection with the same charges faced by Dixon.

Following a day of conflicting testimony from various police officers who had either been told of the incident or had been at the scene, Scott told the court that he was obeying orders when he let Evans go. The former inspector said he had been offered a choice of either testifying as a witness against Dixon about the incident or face prosecution for the same offence. He also stated that he was currently pursuing his own legal action regarding his arrest and the two days he spent in jail. Scott said he was hoping to get an apology as had Justice Alex Henderson, who was unlawfully arrested by the Operation Tempura team .

Asked by Crown counsel about the evening when Evans was brought to George Town police station on suspicion of DUI, Scott told the court that, while he had spoken with the English officer, Gordon Summers, on the phone before Evans arrived, he denied ever saying “No, no that man put pips on my shoulder” to the off duty officer. He said he had told Summers that he might expect problems, as is often the case with people who have been drinking, and that it may be worse as he was an ex-commissioner. Scott said that while former deputy commissioner Evans had been on his promotion board when he was made sergeant, he had already retired by the time Scott made the rank of inspector.

Scott’s recollection of the evening differed from some of the previous testimony given by other officers who said they were present at Evans’ house or at the station. He stated that when Evans was brought to George Town that night he had not been arrested but was eventually arrested at the station by PC Boxwell and not at the scene as Boxwell had testified on Tuesday.

Scott said he opened a custody record and began processing Evans, but moments before he set about taking him to that station’s brethalyzer, Scott said Evans asked to make a call to Rudolph Dixon. Scott said he then called Dixon on the station phone and outlined what had happened and passed the phone to Evans. He said the two men spoke for a while before Evans handed the phone back to him.

Scott then told the jury that Dixon told him to let Evans go. He said that Dixon had described a contemporary case to him where a DUI had been thrown out of court because an officer who was not in uniform had made the arrest. “He then gave me instructions to release Mr Evans and said he would stand responsibility for the release,” Scott told the court.

Under cross examination by defence counsel Jonathan Rose, Scott said that Dixon was aware that the off duty officer had not made the arrest but had still instructed him to release Evans, which, he said, he didn’t think was right but he was only obeying orders.

Scott said he told Dixon that Evans was brought in by uniform officers, as the English officer at the scene was in plain clothes, and had requested those uniform officers to come to the scene to arrest Evans. Scott admitted that he had not told Dixon which officer had arrested Evans.

Scott said his conversation with Dixon was not long but he felt Dixon understood the arresting officer was in uniform.  Asked if he had clarified who had made the arrest when Dixon had suggested it wouldn’t stand up in court, Scott said he had not been asked to clarify.

Rose asked Scott, “Did you think that was lawful?” and Scott replied, “I didn’t think so but I followed his orders.” The attorney asked if he had told Dixon he had the wrong end of the stick as a uniformed officer made the arrest, but Scott said he felt that Dixon knew that and did not need him to clarify.

“He gave me an order,” Scott insisted. He denied Rose’s suggestions that he had been reluctant to process Evans and that he had called Dixon for advice rather than Evans asking him to call Dixon on his behalf.

Scott also told the court he had no idea where the custody record he said he made that night had gone or that he had given Dixon the cell number of Graham Summers to explain why Evans was released.

Scott said he was obeying orders and he obeyed because he felt he would face disciplinary charges if he did not. Pressed by Rose to explain how he would have faced charges by refusing to do an unlawful act, Scott was reluctant to admit that what he had done was unlawful.

“If what you are saying is right you broke law without even arguing it out or seeking clarification with Dixon,” Rose suggested. “I wasn’t trained to argue,” Scott replied.

He then told the court about his arrest by the Tempura team and how he had faced being charged and prosecuted until he agreed to testify.  

Scott’s testimony followed a number of former police officers, including Gordon Summers’ former boss, a retired police officer who was at the time of the incident the area commander for the Eastern Districts. Watler told the court that Graham Summers was a competent and hard working officer and, while he was aware of the incident relating to Evans, he had not seen Summers’ report until the Operation Tempura team showed it to him in May of this year.

Although Summers had testified for the Crown on Monday that he had written a report on the incident regarding Evans’ DUI and sent it to the then commissioner Buel Braggs, copying it to both his immediate senior officer Watler and Dixon, the retired inspector said he knew nothing about it and had certainly never received a copy.

Former police officers Matthew Rice and Colin Redden also testified that they were there on the evening of Evans’ DUI but offered very different views of the evening’s events. Rice said he remembered being in a police vehicle that had followed Evans to his house and testified seeing him swerve across the road while travelling west and that Evans had never been arrested but let go at the scene. Redden, on the other hand, said he had no recollection of Rice being there but said he remembered being at Evans’ house. He said he couldn’t remember exactly who was or wasn’t there and had no recollection of going to George Town police station, as he had left and gone somewhere else, despite testimony from Scott, Summers and Boxwell saying he had gone to George Town.

The trial continues with further Crown witnesses on Thursday morning.

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