Key murder witness falters

| 07/08/2013

(CNS): One of the crown’s key witnesses delivered conflicting testimony when she appeared in the witness stand this week to give evidence against her ex-lover, who is accused of murdering Jackson Rainford in December last year. Terina Tomlinson, the former girlfriend of the defendant, Tareek Ricketts, had identified him as the man who gunned down her new friend, Rainford, as he sat in a car in Printers Way in George Town on the night of Sunday 16 December. However, the jury heard Tomlinson admit to having doubts about that identification as she gave conflicting accounts of the events on the night in question. Tomlinson, who is the mother of Ricketts' children, and the victim’s brother are the main witnesses in the crown’s case. (Photo courtesy of Cayman27)

In addition to the identification of the shooter by Rainford’s brother and Rickett’s ex-girlfriend, the crown is also relying on CCTV and telephone records as corroborating evidence in a killing they say was motivated by jealousy. Ricketts has denied that he was the killer who shot the 23-year-old in the head and chest and claims this is a case of mistaken identity. His claims were bolstered during the dramatic trial this week, when the crown witness made an about-face as she took the stand.

When she was being questioned by Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards, QC, Tomlinson gave a description of what she saw on the night of the shooting. She indicated that she had a disagreement with Ricketts about her not being at her home with their children, knowing that they needed to prepare for school the next morning. Later that evening, the Rainford brothers had driven to her home along Shedden Road to drop off Tomlinson and her children, just before Jackson Rainford was killed.

Tomlinson told the jury that when she returned home, she was able to identify a man walking towards the car in what appeared to be an upset manner and she became instantly fearful that the man she saw was Ricketts. The witness said she then asked Rainford’s brother to drive away, hoping to avoid a confrontation with her babies’ father, as Ricketts was also believed to be dating the wife of Rainford at the time, further adding to what the crown claims was the mix of anger and jealousy that fuelled the murder.

However, during cross examination by Ricketts’ defence team, led by John Ryder, QC, and junior Prathna Bodden, Tomlinson admitted that she had a good relationship with the defendant's mother and had been in correspondence with her regarding the incident.

Counsel recited messages that she was alleged to have sent to his mother, including one in which she said that she "didn't feel like Tareek really shot that boy that night" becauseshe was unable to see the full features of the gunman and was unsure, but did not think people would believe her.

Ricketts' ex-girlfriend elaborated on her doubts on the stand and admitted that she would not be able face her children and tell them the truth should the defendant be sent to jail because of her lies. She told the court that she had neglected to make changes to her statement simply because she thought people would assume she was trying to cover up for the man standing trial.

The witness became increasingly distraught over the course of the proceedings and was later arrested because she refused to return to the courtroom after an emotional recollection of the incident.

The case continues in Grand Court One, this week, overseen by Justice Alex Henderson. But Ricketts’ fate will lie in the hands of the eight women and four men who make up the jury panel.

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