Witness fled after seeing fatal shooting

| 12/08/2013

(CNS): A crown witness told the court Wednesday that he had fled the Cayman Islands because he believed that he was under threat as a result of what he saw on the night that Tareek Ricketts allegedly shot Jackson Rainford. Giving evidence via a video link from an undisclosed location, Dale Vernon, who said he was a friend of the man accused of killing Rainford claimed he was at the scene of the shooting and had seen Ricketts there just moments before the victim arrived. Vernon said Ricketts was uneasy when he saw his former lover with Rainford. He told the court, however, that he fled Cayman two weeks after the crime because he believed Ricketts was the angry man who had turned up at his workplace looking for him.

The crown witness explained that he and the defendant were at a friend's house in the same complex as the defendant's ex-girlfriend on the night of the fatal shooting in December last year. Vernon said that Ricketts was already at the apartment complex where Terina Tomlinson, his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his children, lived when she arrived with Rainford. Vernon described the defendant as “uneasy and bothered” when he saw Tomlinson drive up with their children, Rainford and the victim's brother.

The jury heard that Vernon had then taken the children out of Rainford's car and into Tomlinson's house, and on his way back he heard "popping sounds", which he described as sounding like fireworks or gunshots. When he came back to the front of the residence, he saw his friend who lived there, Edrick Seymour, running and he followed his example before trying to find safety.

Vernon went on to tell the court that he had fled the jurisdiction after he had heard that an angry man had come to his place of work looking for him. Vernon had concluded that this was Ricketts and he was put in fear of his life. Although he did not know for certain who the person was that came to his work, he assumed that it was because of the shooting. 

However, during cross examination the defence legal team queried the veracity of his claims, as they suggested that phone records put the witness in a different place. They suggested that Vernon had fled Cayman not in fear but because of his own "guilty mind" and his possible involvement in the matter, which he denied.

The trial of Tareek Ricketts for the murder of Jackson Rainford in what the crown claim is a killing motivated by anger and jealously continues in Grand Court One this week.

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