New ID evidence fails to persuade appeal court

| 10/12/2012

(CNS): Matio Dinnall will remain behind bars for several more years after his appeal was rejected by the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal on Friday, despite the emergence of new evidence. Dinnall is serving 15 years for shooting up a Bodden Town home in a gang related incident in 2005. Despite the fact that the resident of the home, Carlos Russell, who had identified Dinnall at trial, said he no longer believed he was the man who shot at his house, Cayman’s top court was not convinced that Dinnall’s conviction was no longer safe. Although Russell attended court to say he made an honest mistake in identifying Dinnall and that he had come to believe he was wrong, the court still denied the appeal.

The three member panel of judges said they were not convinced that Russell’s original identification at trial was incorrect, because his change of heart seemed to be as a result of the constant boasting, bragging and threats of Anthony Connor, a former cell mate in Her Majesty's Prison Northward, who claimed he was the shooter, rather than any true reflection on the part of Russell over what he had seen on the night in question.

Russell, who was serving an eleven-year sentence for the manslaughter of the second man he believed had fired on his home that night, wrote to the authorities stating that he believed he could have made an honest mistake and that Dinnall was not the man who shot at him. He told the court that he had agreed to come and give evidence about his letter but he had no intentions of testifying against Connor, whom he now believes to be the man that shot at his house, as he “wanted to see him on the road and not in there”. 

In the letter he wrote about the identification, Russell explained how he had come to be convinced that he made a mistake. He noted that Connor and Dinnall looked alike and on consideration Connor had more of a motive against him that Dinnall.

However, the Court of Appeal said that while Russell may now have convinced himself that Connor, rather than Dinnall was responsible for the shooting in March 2005, it was not as a direct result of Russell reflecting on his own evidence. His state of mind, the appeal court said, appeared to be entirely as a result of an outside influence, as they reaffirmed the original conviction against Dinnall of possession of an unlicensed firearm with intent to commit an offence.

Following a judge alone trial, Dinnall, who was only 21 at the time he was found guilty, was found to have been one of two men who shot at the house in Carrington Lane, Pease Bay, during a spate of gang related gun violence on Grand Cayman in 2005.

He was convicted on the basis of testimony given by Russell, who had told the court that he crawled to a front window during the shooting to see who was firing at his house and he recognised Dinnall, who was holding a nine-millimetre gun. At the time of the trial, Russell was adamant about the accuracy of his identification and said he had known the defendant since he was a baby.

Russell also identified the second gunman as Phillip Watler, the man he later killed in a chase through the George Town Hospital. He was convicted of manslaughter as a result of provocation and was given an eleven-year sentence, part of which was served in a cell next to Connor. Russell said that Connor spent several years bragging and threatening him, resulting in him changing his mind over the true identity of the gunman. 

At the time of Dinnall’s trial however, the sitting judge, Justice Lloyd Hibbert, said he accepted Russell as a witness of truth who was reliable and not mistaken.

As a result of that evidence, Dinnall was convicted and sentenced to fifteen-years. At the time of the shooting, Russell was at home with his family, including his two-year-old grandchild, when some 27 shots were fired at the house. The gunmen were armed with a nine-millimetre hand gun and an M16 automatic assault rifle. No one was injured during the shooting,

The judge said at the time that Dinnall had not paid attention to the fact that the family was at home and he could have been facing for more serious charges.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    they need to keep matio in jail as well!!! he on the same level as them

  2. Anonymous says:

    NO SAH! So Dinnall gets 15 years forshooting and Russell gets 11 for MURDER. Only in Cayman, Free up Matio!

  3. Anonymous says:

    sorry for dinnall if that is the true case. and for Connor to brag and boast about such a senseless act after seeing one family lose a loved. It seems he wants to promote casket sales.

  4. Anynomous says:

    This Island cannot take anymore terror.  These people need to stay behind bars until they are old men.   We just cannot handle the shooting any more.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thugs, all of them. Lock them up for ever.