Defence accuses cop of conspiracy in murder trial

| 09/07/2009

(CNS): In the second day of the trial of William Martinez-McLaughlin for the murder of Brian Rankine, the defendant’s counsel painted a different picture of the events of the night of 16 May 2008 than that presented by the Crown. Grilling the prosecution’s key witness, Jason Hinds, who has admitting to being with McLaughlin on the night of the murder, Mark Tomassi suggested that the brutal murder was committed by Hinds over a drug deal gone bad and that he had conspired with a local police officer to concoct his testimony and clear him from the crime.

Tomassi questioned the witness on the testimony he gave at the opening of the trial when Hinds had described Martinez-McLaughlin as the murderer. The defence’s lead counsel queried Hinds for a full day on his alleged movements on the night, his motivations and his relationship with Detective Sergeant Wright, who was one of the main officers handling the case. He suggested to the witness that it was him who was responsible for the murder of Brian Rankine because of his hatred for homosexuals and the failure of a drug deal. He then suggested that Hinds already had a family relationship with Sgt Wright from Jamaica, who was present at the arrest, and together they had conspired to clear him of the murder and put the blame on his client. “He was your buddy, wasn’t he?” Tomassi said. “Your friend from Jamaica?”

Hinds denied having a family relationship with Officer Right but did say he had known him from seeing him on the road in his home of Spanish Town in Jamaica. Hinds also said he had not conspired with Wright but had felt more comfortable telling him the truth over what had happened. “What you have cleverly done with the help of Sgt Wright is swap positions with my client,” Tomassi suggested.

During the cross examination, Hinds persistently denied Tomassi’s accusations often saying, “No Sir” or “I do not know what you are talking about.” However, Tomassi suggested that Hinds had a hatred for homosexuals, which he believed Brian Rankine to be after he had allegedly complimented Hinds on his dancing in the Eastern Star Bar in East End. Tomassi also suggested it was he who had set up the drug deal with Rankine and made the decision to drive to George Town and not the defendant as he had suggested. He said that when Rankine did not supply the amount of drugs Hinds had been expecting, it was he who murdered Rankin in a fit of rage as he suggested the witness was known as a dangerous man who should not be crossed.

Tomassi questioned Hinds in detail on his testimony and asked why, if his account was true, that he had not driven off and left Martinez-McLaughlin on the many occasions that presented themselves to report the murder. Hinds said he was shocked and confused as well as being scared of the defendant and was not thinking clearly.

Tomassi also asked why, having already driven once from George Town to East End that night, he was prepared to do it again late at night without seemingly knowing why. Hinds insisted he was simply doing his co-worker a favour and he had been offered compensation for the gas. Hinds also denied being involved in any drug deal but was unable to give an account of what he thought the drive to George Town to McField Lane was all about and what was supposedly going on between Rankine and the defendant.

Tomassi also raised the issue of a missing machete that was not in the evidence list, which Hinds admits to using to bury his own clothes that Hinds said the police had taken. Tomassi also questioned why a knife belonging to Hinds that was at the scene of the arrest was not taken into evidence and tested.

He questioned Hinds on his drug use, and Hinds said that he had used ganja in Jamaica but had given it up since arriving in Cayman and had only taken one pull from a spliff that had belonged to McLaughlin on one occasion.

Having established that Hinds was no stranger to drugs, Tomassi continued his inference that it was he who had taken Rankine, whom he described as a vulnerable and scared young man, to George Town for the intent of securing drugs, but when the deal went bad Hinds had killed Rankine, whom he considered a homosexual, in an angry rage and then set about creating his story, which was helped by the good fortune of his friend Sgt Wright being on the case.

Hinds continued to deny all of the lawyer’s repeated allegations throughout the day and on re-examination by the Crown told Solicitor General Cheryll Richards that he had given up smoking ganja when he moved to the Cayman Islands four years ago because of the stiff penalties.

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  1. Pale Rider says:

    Now, Now….let’s stop tit for tatting and look at the facts…It is the job of the defence to create "reasonable doubt" as to the guilt of the individual on trial….that being said, it is very easy to allege corruption and collusion, and another thing to prove it….and that is what the defence has to do in order to create "reasonable doubt"…However, it is a lot easier to introduce this sort of doubt when there has been the appearance of corruption….which, unfortunately has been getting bigger and bigger in the last decade or so since the large number of Police officers from a certain neighboring country have been introduced into the RCIP with no oversight and allowance to do what ever they did back home…it’s well known that this particular country has some of the worst police corruption in the world….the chickens have begun to come home to roost….might as well get used to it….

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wouldn’t be the first time the defense has clung at straws either.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Wouldn’t be the first time a police officer was in a conspiracy with a criminal.