By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE assault case involving a teenager accused of an attack on an immigration officer continued yesterday with testimony by an eyewitness.
Officer Diego O’Brien took to the stand during cross-examination by Fred Smith, QC, the lawyer for 19-year-old Dahene Nonord who is on trial in Magistrates Court on charges of assault and obstruction.
It is claimed that Nonord unlawfully assaulted Avia Beckford and obstructed the immigration officer while she was acting in the execution of her duties on December 29, 2014.
Nonord, currently on $3,500 cash bail, has denied the offences and is defended by Smith, Romauld Ferreira and Adrian Gibson.
Magistrate Carolyn Vogt-Evans is presiding over the case.
In Friday’s proceedings, police prosecutor Cpl Claudette McKenzie called O’Brien to the witness stand. He said that on the day in question, he along with other officers were on an immigration operation in the area of Golden Isles Road in two buses headed for Cowpen Road.
“I noticed Ms Nonord video recording us as we left the area,” he said, adding that sometime afterwards, “I saw a red vehicle come on the side of the immigration vehicle I was on.”
He said her attempt to gain access to the moving bus resulted in a collision.
“My seniors came off the bus but I didn’t come off the bus at that particular time,” he said, noting that the officers confronted the driver of the vehicle.
“What did you do?” the prosecutor asked.
“I stayed on the bus to observe” said O’Brien.
“And what did you observe?” the prosecutor further probed.
“I observed Ms Nonord verbally assault immigration officers,” the officer said.
He said he could not recall her exact words, but claimed it was profane language.
O’Brien added that he was then instructed by the senior officer conducting the interrupted operation to arrest Nonord, who then ran away.
He and other officers pursued her to a house in that community before he observed two female colleagues removing Nonord from the home.
“Avia Beckford asked me to help handcuff her because she was acting in an unruly manner,” O’Brien said, adding that it was at this time that the resistant Nonord bit Beckford.
The officer said Nonord was subdued to an unmarked vehicle and transferred to the Carmichael Road police station.
In cross-examination, Mr Smith asked the officer if he recognised Nonord “as a former detainee”.
“Yes, sir,” said O’Brien.
“And you were apart of a group of immigration officers conducting routine enforcement exercises?” Smith asked.
“Yes, sir,” said O’Brien, who explained that “we go into unregistered houses or areas to apprehend illegal immigrants.”
“What is an unregistered house?” Smith asked.
“A house that isn’t registered with the government,” said O’Brien.
“Were you going there on suspicions or of persons you were specifically targeting?” Nonord’s lawyer asked.
“I only follow orders,” the officer said.
“On that day were you going to try and find people that might be illegal?” the lawyer then asked. The officer said “yes, sir”.
“Ms Nonord, was she driving the vehicle?” the lawyer asked. The officer said “no, sir”.
“Did you know the driver of the vehicle was an off duty police officer?” Smith asked. O’Brien said he learned of this information after the fact but did not know the name of the officer.
“You agree that he obstructed the bus?” Smith asked.
“Yes, after being influenced by Ms Nonord,” O’Brien replied.
“Were you in the vehicle to know if, or how, Ms Nonord influenced the driver?” asked Smith. O’Brien said he was not.
Mr Smith asked the officer if he recalled his client saying anything when she was removed from the house.
“I don’t recall her saying anything at the point where officers were bringing her out of the house,” he said. However, he said that she used profanity on the outside and not to “touch her”.
“Did she say you don’t have the right to arrest me?” the lawyer asked.
“I didn’t hear that,” he said.
“Do you think you have the right to interrogate or arrest anyone you see on the side of the road?” the lawyer then asked.
“Being an immigration officer allows us to question anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant,” O’Brien said.
“You knew she was not a person whom you had no power to arrest, correct?” asked Smith.
“Yes, sir,” said O’Brien.
“Do you follow any order regardless of whether it’s lawful or not?” Smith asked.
“Any order that is given to me is lawful in my book,” said O’Brien.