R v Webley (Herald)

Judge BROOKS, J.
Judgment Date07 December 2006
Judgment citation (vLex)[2006] 12 JJC 0701
CourtSupreme Court (Jamaica)
Date07 December 2006
Docket NumberHCC 89/04 (1)



HCC 89/04 (1)



Application to Stay Proceedings — abuse of process — failure to provide statements — delay in trial — need to show exceptional prejudice

CRIMINAL LAW - Stay of proceedings - Application

CRIMINAL LAW - Stay of proceedings - Application


Mr. Clinton Lecky was a security guard. He was deployed by his employer to the campus of the Vocational Training Developmental Institute (VTDI) in Saint Andrew. His dead body was found in a study room on that campus on the morning of 16 th August, 1999. There is evidence that he died a violent death. Mr. Herald Webley, also a security guard, and similarly deployed, has been charged with murder arising from that death.


The prosecution has not produced any person who is alleged to have witnessed the event in which Mr. Lecky met his demise. It is relying mainly on a cautioned statement taken from Mr. Webley and on the evidence of another guard, a Mr. Beresford Gray. Mr. Gray alleges that on the previous evening Mr. Lecky and Mr. Webley had an argument on the campus. Mr. Lecky was supervisor to both Mr. Gray and Mr. Webley.


On the 4 th December 2006, when this case came on for trial for the twenty-seventh time, the situation was that the case, once again, could not be started. Mrs. Neita-Robertson appearing for Mr. Webley then made the unusual application that the case against Mr. Webley ought to be stayed on the basis of the continuation of the prosecution being an abuse of the process of the court. Mrs. Gordon-Harrison, for the Crown, submitted that none of the arguments advanced by Mrs. Neita-Robertson described a situation which prevents Mr. Webley from receiving a fair trial.


The question which arises from the submissions is whether Mr. Webley is precluded from receiving a fair trial by any, or any combination, of the following factors:

  • a. the failure of the Crown to produce a second witness statement said to have been taken from Mr. Gray;

  • b. the failure of the Crown to produce the original cautioned statement, in circumstances where he denies having given, or signed, any such statement;

  • c. the failure to bring this case to trial after the lapse of over seven years since Mr. Lecky's death.


I shall address each aspect individually and thereafter assess whether they cumulatively have the effect asserted by Mrs. Neita-Robertson.


The failure of the Crown to produce a second witness statement said to have been taken from Mr. Gray.


Mrs. Neita-Robertson argued that Mr. Gray had testified at the preliminary enquiry held in this case, that he had given two statements to the police with regard to the death. Yet, says Mrs. Neita-Robertson, only one statement has been provided to the defence, despite many requests. In her submission the defence is seriously prejudiced by the failure/refusal of the prosecution to satisfy these requests.


She emphasised that the production of the statement is required by the principle that Mr. Webley is entitled to disclosure of all relevant material, whether the Crown intends to make use of it or not. The missing statement, counsel says, is even more important because it was taken at a time when Mr. Gray was in police custody as a suspect in Mr. Lecky's death. Now that he is the only witness that seeks to link Mr. Webley to the death, the need to ascertain what he did say in that statement is important to the preparation of Mr. Webley's defence.


Mrs. Gordon-Harrison countered that her enquiries of Mr. Gray and of the investigating officer indicate that if there were in fact a second statement, it was a repetition of the statement first taken. She submitted that this was an area that the defence could explore in cross-examination and expose to the jury, any resultant weaknesses, if any, in the Crown's case. Mrs Gordon-Harrison submitted that the issues arising from the absence of the document and Mr. Gray's status would require the trial judge giving guidance and the requisite warning to the jury.


I shall assess these arguments when considering the submissions in respect of the second issue.


The failure of the Crown to produce the original cautioned statement.


Mrs. Neita-Robertson submitted that the defence has been seriously prejudiced by the failure of the prosecution to provide it with sight of the original cautioned statement said to have been taken from Mr. Webley. He denies that he made, or signed, any such statement...

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