Crown sets out key evidence

| 02/02/2010

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman headline news, court news, Estella Scott-Roberts murder(CNS): Opening the crown’s case against Kirkland Henry and Larry Ricketts on Monday morning, the solicitor general told the court that the prosecution would show that both men entered into a common enterprise to rob and abduct Estella Scott-Roberts on 10 October 2008 and ultimately cause her death. Cheryll Richards QC said the crown had circumstantial evidence which included DNA and statements from the accused, as well as the property of the deceased in their possession. She said that either they both jointly caused her death or one or other was the primary assailant and the other an accessory.

Relating the narrative of the case based on the crown’s evidence, Richards said that on the night of her murder Estella Scott-Roberts had met with friends at Deckers Restaurant on the West Bay Road to celebrate her birthday. She parted from those friends at around 11pm on Friday 10 October and was never again seen by friends or family. Richards pointed to witness testimony from two people who say they saw at least one, and some say two, men of dark complexion in the car park between Deckers and Buckingham Square, where the deceased’s car was parked shortly before she parted from her friends. She related how Scott-Roberts’ damaged shoes were found by landscape workers the following morning near to where her car had been parked.

The crown’s evidence appeared to point to Scott-Roberts being abducted by her assailants from Deckers car park, from where she was then driven to Barkers Beach, where she was raped and murdered. The car, in which herremains were found after her killers had set the vehicle alight, was found around 2 miles away from where the prosecution believe she was assaulted.

Richards said that the police had tracked down Henry and Ricketts through the phone signals from the deceased’s BlackBerry phone, and eventually recovered from Henry other property which had belonged to Scott-Roberts, including a Dell lap top computer. The solicitor general went on to explain how police had then connected Ricketts to the crime through bank video footage and a phone which had belonged to the victim.

She related to the court how searches the morning after Scott-Roberts’ disappearance by friends and family had recovered crucial evidence linking Kirkland Henry through DNA evidence to the rape of Scott-Roberts, to which he has since admitted his guilt. She explained how friends, searching around the Barkers Beach area following the discovery of the deceased’s car in the nearby Shores area of Barkers, had found duct tape with hair stuck to it and birthday confetti which Scott-Roberts had in her bag from her birthday celebrations when she left the restaurant. They also found condom wrappers and a used condom hanging from a tree, which was eventually shown by forensic experts to have the DNA of both the deceased and that of defendant Henry.

Summarising the crown’s evidence against the two men, Richards told the court that Henry, who had admitted his guilt to the crimes of rape, abduction and robbery, even though he had denied the charge of murder, was connected to that murder through the DNA found in the condom, the possession of the deceased’s cell phone and her computer, which contained his finger prints. She said he was connected to the co-defendant Ricketts via cell phone communication before and after the crime, which included pornographic material, as well as statements he made to the police and his evidence which led to the arrest of Ricketts.

The evidence against Ricketts, Richards explained, included his possession of the deceased’s phone and her Cayman National debit card. Although the card had been recovered by the bank’s machines, someone had tried to obtain cash with the card on several occasions in the morning immediately following Scott-Roberts murder. Richards said that a man, who they believe was Ricketts as he was wearing clothes found in Ricketts’ house, is seen on CCTV using the card at an ATM in Elgin Avenue. Richards also told the court that Ricketts’ connection to Henry, who has admitted his involvement in the related crimes, is further evidence of Ricketts’ connection to the murder.

Following the solicitor general’s closing statements, the crown proceeded to present their witnesses and read in a number of statements which are not contested by the defence teams. The first were three statements from Scott-Roberts’ husband, Rayle Roberts, which he had given to the police in the wake of his wife’s disappearance. The crown also read a number of admissions that have been agreed by the defence counsel with the crown.

The first witness to take the stand was Rochelle Smith, a very close friend of the deceased, who had been with her on the night of her birthday celebrations at Deckers and who then joined in the search for Scott-Roberts on the Saturday.  Following the discovery of the deceased’s body in her burnt out car, Smith and others resumed their search on the Sunday in the Barkers area for anything that could tell them what had happened to her.

She revealed how the search party had come across the condoms, the condom wrappers, the duct tape and the confetti by Barkers Beach, which made them realise this could all be connected to their friend’s murder, and as a result they called the police and did not touch or move the evidence.

The crown also called two RCIPS scenes of crime officers who began submitting the various police evidence on which the prosecution’s case is built against the two defendants. Some 27 exhibits were submitted by the scenes of crime officers, who detailed their examination of the rape scene, the location where the car was found, the examination of the car itself and the subsequent searches at each of the defendants’ homes.

The first officer on the scene explained the challenges they faced as a result of the torrential rain that started just as the car was discovered and the lack of light in the area of the crime scene as daylight faded. She also described the dense natural environment surrounding the two scenes, making it difficult to make a thorough search without cutting tools.

The trial will continue before Chief Justice Anthony Smellie with further scenes of crime evidence on Tuesday morning.

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