Douglas (Eaton) v R

JurisdictionJamaica
CourtCourt of Appeal
Judge SMITH, J A. (AG) :
Judgment Date08 October 2001
Neutral CitationJM 2001 CA 53
Judgment citation (vLex)[2001] 10 JJC 0801
Date08 October 2001
IN THE COURT OF APPEAL
BEFORE:
THE HON MR JUSTICE DOWNER, J.A THE HON MR JUSTICE BINGHAM, J .A THE HON MR JUSTICE SMITH J.A. (AG.)
EATON DOUGLAS
V
THE OUEEN
Terrence Williams and Alexander Williams for the appellant
Mrs Sonya Wint-Blair, Crown Counsel (Ag.) for the Crown

CRIMINAL LAW - Murder - Non-capital - Circumstantial evidence

SMITH, J A. (AG) :
1

On the 14 th October 1999, the appellant Eaton Douglas was convicted of non-capital murder in the Manchester Circuit Court before Pitter, J. and sentenced to life imprisonment. Leave to appeal was refused by a single judge. This court has treated the application for leave as the hearing of the appeal.

2

The indictment averred that on the 7 th day of January 1998, in the parish of Manchester, Eaton Douglas murdered Rosetta Williams.

3

The Crown relied on circumstantial evidence. For the purpose of this appeal it is necessary to state in some detail the evidence on which the Crown's case rests. The deceased was the owner/driver of a white Toyota Corolla motor car. She lived in Knockpatrick Gardens, Manchester. Miss Carol Linton who was a tenant of the deceased, occupied a part of the house where the deceased lived. The deceased whose husband had died, lived with her 14 year old grandson and her 3 year old granddaughter Celsorie. On Wednesday 7 th January 1998, Miss Linton left for work leaving Mrs Williams (the deceased) and her granddaughter at home. About 11:00 a.m. the same day, Ms Carla Moncrieffe, a bar operator of Freckleton Hill, Spauldings, saw the deceased's car parked in an open lot situated in front of the bar. This lot was owned by one Mr. Simpson. Ms Moncrieffe went out and returned about 3:00 p.m. The car was still there. She has seen cars parked there before so she did not make any alarm. About an hour later whilst she was sweeping she saw a baby girl sitting on the top of the car. Of course, this held her attention. She spoke to customers. She approached the baby, spoke to her and took her off the car. Ms. Moncrieffe took the baby to Mr. Simpson and spoke to him. Together they took the baby to the police station and made a report. The police went with them to the spot where the car was. The police opened the trunk of the car. Ms. Moncrieffe testified that she saw a piece of clothing covered with blood and she ran screaming.

4

Mr. George Simpson, a farmer from Spaulding testified that about 10:00 a.m. on the 7 th January 1998, when he returned from his field he noticed a white Toyota Corolla motor car parked on his land - an open lot. He paid it no mind, he said, because people usually park their cars there. One of the windows of this car was down. Later that same day Ms. Moncrieffe visited him. She had a baby with her. They spoke and thereafter took the baby to the police station. The police returned to the scene with them. He saw the police open the trunk of the white Corolla motor car. In the trunk the dead body of a woman was seen.

5

Detective Inspector Guy Wiltshire, attached to the Manchester Criminal Investigation Branch, gave evidence that on the 7 th of January 1998, about 4:00 p.m. he received a report and consequently went to an open Sot along the Spauldings - Frankfield main road. There he observed a white Toyota Corolla motor car. The front and rear windows to the right side of the car were down. Inside the trunk of the car he saw the body of a female adult - about 67 years old. He contacted Detective Corporal Larmond, the Senior Crime Officer for Area 3 Division. He also contacted Superintendent Douglas Lawrence and Ms. Sharon Brydson, the government analyst, and gave them instructions.

6

The following day, that is the 8 th January, with others, he went to the home of the appellant at 1 Upper Mount Nelson Boulevard, Mandeville. There he saw the appellant and one Basil Heath. He observed what appeared to be blood stains on the jamb of a door at the back of the house. He asked the appellant how blood stains got on the door jamb. The appellant, he said, replied that "it is likely to be blood from meat that he handled from food that he prepared for his dog."

7

He told the appellant he was investigating the death of Mrs Rosetta Williams and that he had received information that the deceased Williams had visited his premises to collect rent. He testified that the appellant informed him that he was acting as agent for someone to collect rent and to pay it over to the deceased who would issue receipts. It is his evidence that the appellant handed him some seven receipts; these were admitted into evidence as Exhibit 7.

8

Superintendent Douglas Lawrence was contacted and he went to the Spauldings Police Station about 4:30 p.m. on the 7 th January 1998. There he saw a white Toyota motor car registered 8002 BG. In the trunk of this car he saw what appeared to be blood stains.

9

On the 8 th January about 6:00 p.m. he went with a party of policemen to a house situated at 1 Mount Nelson Boulevard. There he saw the appellant Eaton Douglas and another man - Basil Heath. The appellant told him that he occupied the house alone and that Heath was just visiting from Clarendon. He observed what appeared to be bloodstains on sections of a door at the back of the house. He observed that a concrete section of the yard immediately behind the house appeared to have been recently washed. Both men, the appellant and Heath, were taken to the Mandeville Police Station. Later that same day the appellant was taken to the office of Deputy Superintendent Lawrence who cautioned him and then proceeded to question him.

10

The questions and answers were taken down in writing on a foolscap sheet of paper. Inspector Whiltshire and Sgt. Faulknor were present. The appellant was invited to read the recorded questions and answers and to add, alter or correct any of the answers. He asked that someone read them for him. This was done. He then signed the document indicating that the answers were true and that he gave them of his own free will. His signature was witnessed by Inspector Wiltshire and Sgt Faulknor. The document containing the questions and answers were received in evidence as Exhibit 1. In Exhibit 1 the appellant stated that the house where he lived at 1 Upper Mount Boulevard was owned by the deceased's sister. The deceased collected the rent from him on behalf of her sister. He had known the deceased for about 3 years. The following are some of the questions and answers:

"Q. When last did you see Miss Williams?

A. Yesterday Wednesday the 7 th January 1998.

Q. Where did you see her?

A. She came by the house.

Q. About what time yesterday you saw her?

A. When I last look on the clock it was nine o'clock. It was long after that she came there, maybe minutes to ten.

Q. Does anyone else stay at the home with you?

A. No sah only sometimes friends come there and visit.

Q. What did you do after the lady came to the house and left?

A. I finish bathe then left to Clarendon.

Q. Where in Clarendon did you go?

A. Alexandria where my mother and father live.

Q. Did you see your mother and father?

A. Yes sah I saw them and spoke to them

Q. When did you come back to Mandeville?

A. Today 8th January 1998, I reach home after midday.

Q. Where you travel to go to Alexandria yesterday?

A. Via May Pen.

Q. What did you do when you came back today from Clarendon?

A I had some dirty shirts. I wash them out and my friend Basil Heath who came back with me from Clarendon help me rinse them out. They were not really dirty, they were just mildew.

Q Who came with her and how did she come?

A. She took a baby with her and she came in a white car.

Q. Where did you stay and give her the rent?

A. Inside the house in the hall.

Q. Did you get a receipt?

A. Yes sir.

Q. Where is the receipt?

B. I gave it to the police.

Q. Haw much did you pay her?

A. Fourteen Thousand Dollars and she brought the receipt.

Q. Did you speak to Miss Williams before yesterday?

A. I spoke to her Tuesday 6.1.98 and she told me she would come and collect it Wednesday 7.1.98 so I went and collect the Fourteen Thousand Dollars from Lorna for the rent.

Q. How long did Miss Williams spend at the house?

A. Long enough to check the money; about two minutes.

Q. Was anyone else at the house when she came?

A. No sah I was alone."

11

Mr. Basil Heath the friend of the appellant was called as a witness by the prosecution. He is a self-employed furniture maker from Alexandria District, in Clarendon. He knew the appellant from school days for over 10 years. He said the appellant was his friend and church brother. He testified that on Wednesday, the 7 th January 1998, some time after one o'clock the appellant came to him in Alexandria District. The appellant was wearing short pants and a T-shirt.

12

The following morning they left Clarendon and went to the appellant's house in Mandeville. According to Mr. Heath, the appellant gave him some dirty pants to "brush", The appellant washed a white T-shirt and white merino, Mr. Heath rinsed them. Those he said, were not worn by the appellant the day before. Permission was sought and granted to treat Mr. Heath as a hostile witness. He was cross-examined by crown counsel on the statement he admitted giving to the police on Friday, (the 9 th January 1998). He admitted that in that statement he said:

"When Dougie (that is the accused) came to my house on Wednesday, 7 th January 1998, I noticed that he was dressed in a short brown pants and a black T-shirt and a white crepe. Among the clothing I washed for Dougie, the black T-shirt I saw him in the day before I only rinsed it as he had washed it himself also the brown short pants he was wearing with the black ganzie, I only brushed out the dirt spot from same."

13

The witness told the court that...

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