By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A SUPREME Court jury was directed by a judge yesterday to acquit a man of armed robbery and receiving charges.
Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs’ directive stemmed from a week of legal discussions held in their absence concerning the prosecution’s case of 26-year-old Vinson Ariste.
Ariste was charged with two counts of armed robbery and a single charge of receiving, all of which he denied when the charges were read to him before the jury at the start of his trial.
When the jury was recalled to the courtroom from their week-long hiatus, prosecutor Ambrose Armbrister said the Crown would not offer any evidence against the accused.
The judge then addressed the jury: “I’m obliged to direct you to return not guilty verdicts on all counts, two counts of armed robbery and a count of receiving.”
His lawyer, Dorsey McPhee, explained to The Tribune the reason behind his client’s acquittal.
“The only evidence that the prosecution had was confession evidence,” Mr Dorsey said. “We showed that there was some abuse at the hands of the police. So therefore the statements were ruled inadmissible. So the court directed the jury to send a not guilty verdict on all counts.
“Normally when the only evidence is a confession, and a complaint is made of abuse, that is usually the case. And in this particular case, there was physical evidence demonstrating the abuse. There was physical evidence where he had a bruise to the buttocks, lacerated wrists from the handcuffs being applied too tightly and struggling with the plastic bag over his head.
“There was sufficient evidence of physical abuse and threats,” Mr McPhee concluded.
It was alleged that Ariste, on July 20, 2010, robbed Kyle Godet at gunpoint of a $1,200 gold chain, a gold ring with a black opal stone bearing an eagle’s eye, a $400 Seiko watch, a $500 iPhone and a $700 black Acer laptop.
It was further alleged that he held up and robbed Kerry Knowles of a $50 Nokia cellphone and $120 cash.
Ariste was also alleged to have dishonestly received the laptop, knowing that it had been obtained or appropriated by the commission of an offence.
Though he was cleared in this case, Ariste remains in custody at the Department of Correctional Service due to other matters before the courts.