By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Court of Appeal yesterday affirmed a Supreme Court judge’s decision to grant $25,000 bail to a man awaiting trial on a murder charge.
Olivia Nixon argued on behalf of the Crown that Justice Milton Evans had not adequately considered the serious nature of the offence and strength of the evidence against Ivan Darius Pinder when he granted Pinder’s application in July.
The 23-year-old accused, who is due to stand trial in June 2017, faces a charge of murder in the February 3, 2015 killing of Tarino Tucker on New Hope Drive, off East Street South.
Around 9.30am on the day in question, Tucker was fatally shot multiple times while visiting a friend in Bamboo Town – just hours before his 28th birthday.
Tucker walked from home to a friend’s house and was sitting on a wall using his cellular phone when an armed gunman approached and opened fire on him.
He tried to run, but died at the scene.
Pinder pleaded not guilty to the allegation when formally arraigned in the Supreme Court in July 2015.
Nixon, in yesterday’s hearing before Justices Dame Anita Allen, Stella Crane-Scott and Roy Jones, stressed that the judge had not adequately considered the serious nature of the offence and cogency of the evidence as the amended Bail Act (2011) requires.
“The reason for the judge hearing the application is to inform himself whether, in fact, the applicant is likely to appear for trial. Is there any allegation that he wouldn’t?” Dame Anita asked the prosecutor.
“It was listed in the initial affidavit of Sgt 1600 Barry Smith that was filed in opposition to bail,” Ms Nixon said.
Justice Jones said the affidavit doesn’t reflect those exact terms.
Justice Crane-Scott also raised an issue with the affidavit of Sgt Smith, noting that the contents of his affidavit conflict with the witness’ statements on which he relies.
Sgt Smith, the judge noted, indicated that two witnesses saw the incident. However, one of the witnesses’ statements said he heard gunshots and then proceeded to the area where he heard the sounds.
“Cogency will depend on the quality of the identification,” Dame Anita said.
Ms Nixon clarified that the witness claimed to have passed and talked with the respondent on the way to the scene.
The prosecutor contended that the judge had not “adequately considered the serious nature of the offence and the cogency of the evidence.”
Justice Crane-Scott disagreed, noting that Justice Evans indicated in his judgment that he had done so.
Ms Nixon was asked if there were any other circumstances leading to the objection by the Crown and she said the severity of the penalty Pinder faced, if convicted, was a likely incentive for him to abscond if granted bail.
However, Ms Nixon was told that this was not raised in their objection.
“The whole purpose of the bail hearing is for the judge to be sure that the applicant will appear for his trial. So where did the judge go wrong in law?” Dame Anita asked.
Justice Jones, in agreement with the appellate president, noted that Justice Evans had referenced the relevant case authorities that outline the principles for which he has to consider when deciding on bail.
Ms Nixon noted that the judge had not properly considered that Pinder’s trial fell within the three-year threshold set out in the amended Bail Act (2011) concerning an accused man’s right to trial within a reasonable time.
However, Justice Crane-Scott told her that the very same legislation provided the court with the alternative option to grant bail if it was satisfied that the preceding factors had been considered.
The Crown’s application was dismissed and the Supreme Court’s decision was affirmed.
Pinder, as a condition of his $25,000 bond, must have two suretors and must surrender his travel documents to the court. He is also to be fitted with an electronic monitoring device and has a daily 9pm curfew.
Pinder is also required to report to the Quakoo Street police station on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays on/or before 6pm.
Attorney Keith Seymour appeared for Pinder in yesterday’s hearing.