Witness says too much ganja spoiled his memory

| 18/01/2012

joseph hurlston.jpg(CNS): Concerns that prisoners are regularly smoking ganja while serving time at Northward were fuelled in court Wednesday morning when inmate and prosecution witness in the Raziel Jeffers murder trial admitted to smoking before he took the stand. The man, who lived at the house in Bonaventure Road, West Bay where Jeffers is accused of killing Marcus Ebanks and shooting at four other men, told the court he had difficulty remembering the event. Joseph Hurlston, (left) who was called by the crown, was at his home on the evening of the shooting but said he did not have a good memory as he smoked a lot “day and night” and could not remember anything about it.

Despite being in custody since April 2010, he said he was still using the drug and he had a "spliff just a minute ago” before he came to the witness stand. Hurlston is currently servinga nine year sentence for importation of firearms. He had pleaded guilty to the charges, saying at the time that had bought the guns for his own protection because of the Bonaventure Road killing.

The witness told the court that he had smoked ganja since he was sixteen and he assured the judge he had not stopped smoking even though he was in Northward.

Hurlston’s memory was jogged, however, when he read his statement and although reluctant to speak about the incident, he confirmed that he was inside his room at the house when the shooting started. He said he had not seen the gunmen arrive or open fire but he had looked through the window as he heard the shooting and then locked himself in his room.

Immediately after the shooting he said he had left the scene with Jose Sanchez but shortly after the two men were both arrested by the police. “The police they ask me why I shoot the people in my yard … shows how much they know,” Hurlstone told the court, as he indicated that he and Sanchez were, in the first, instance suspects.

Clearly reluctant to say anything about the incident Hurlston said that he had no idea who the shooters were as he couldn’t see through walls but he didn't think it was Raziel Jeffers who was doing the shooting. He told the court that he did not want anything to do with the case and insisted that he had not seen anything. “I don’t feel I should be involved in this,” he said as he asked to leave.

Justice Charles Quin, who is presiding in the case alone without a jury, pointed to the seriousness of the allegations against Jeffers and the fact that a young man had been murdered as he asked Hurlston to assist the court to get to the truth.

Although reluctant to speak about the night of the shooting, Hurlston did say he remembered telling the police about an incident in a West Bay bar a few months before the murder. He told the court that one night in Kelly's bar he had seen the defendant hit his friend, Jose Sanchez, in the face. Sanchez is the man that the crown claims was Jeffers' intended target because of gang animosity between the men, further compounded by a relationship that Sanchez had with a former girlfriend of Jeffers.

When Jeffers' defence attorney, Peter Champagnie, queried the truth of Hurlstone's claim that he had seen an altercation between Sanchez and his client, the witness insisted it was true, stating that what he said happened in Kelly's was right and accused the attorney of having no manners and being a 'Yardie'.

As he left the court Hurlstone told Jeffers he had tried his best for him and wished him luck as he disappeared to the cells below.

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