Judge warns defendant over witness harassment

| 15/02/2012

(CNS): A grand court judge warned an accused man Friday that having friends and family call a witness won’t help his situation and is likely to ensure he would remain in custody until his trial. Jonathan Mellard has been charged with wounding and was hoping that the charges against him would be dropped as a result of the main witness withdrawing his complaint. However, the crown revealed that the witness still intended to testify against the accused man despite phone calls made to him to persuade him otherwise. The defendant’s attorney told the court of his intention to apply for bail if the trial was to go ahead but the judge said the calls would not help the defendant’s case.

Prosecuting counsel Marilyn Brandt told Justice Seymour Panton that the complainant was going ahead despite claims by the defence that he was not willing to testify. She told the court the witness had made no indication that he wanted to withdraw the charges but he did state that he had received calls from people who wanted him to stop the legal proceedings. 

The judge said the people involved were “playing a dangerous game” in their efforts to stop the case and such reports would need to be given serious consideration by whichever judge heard the bail application. Aside from warning the callers about the damage they were doing to the defendant’s chances of getting bail he pointed out that it is not up to the witness to decide if the case goes ahead. “It is not his prerogative to say if the case proceeds,” the judge said adding that if a wounding has happened then it should be prosecuted by the crown.

The defence attorney asked for the case to be adjourned for two weeks so that he could proceed with the bail application.

Category: Crime

Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The only recourse the defendant now has is to ask his MLA to sit in the gallery during the trial.

  2. Anonymous says:

    If you believe this witness intimidation does not work then you are sadly mistaken. Calling up and trying to get a person to drop charges is unheard of in a first world judicial system.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don't be ridiculous. It is not unheard of in developed countries. It happens everywhere; the issue is whether effective sanctions are applied against it when it does happen.  

  3. Dred says:

    Say What? Really!! Please don't have your friends call the witness. Huh. How about "The next time one of your family members or friends makes contact I am charging you with tampering with a witness and adding 10 years to whatever you get. 

  4. Anonymous says:

    Where I come from those calls are obstruction of justice, a serious felony. What are they in Cayman? Is anyone going to do anything about it other than reprimanding the defendant?

    • so Anonymous says:

      In a third world country witness intimidation is expected and like many laws it is looked at as "almost" against the law.  Your in Cayman now.

    • Anonymous says:

      Interestingly when MLA Dwayne Seymour was accused of the same thing he faced criminal prosecution for obstruction of justice.