A 32-year-old man, of Beetham Gardens, has been freed of murdering a neighbour in 2006.
After spending almost a decade and a half on remand, Kevin Phillip was found not guilty by Justice Kathy-Ann Waterman-Latchoo at the end of his virtual judge-alone trial yesterday morning.
Phillip was on trial for murdering 30-year-old Antonio Bynoe, at Main Street, in Beetham Gardens, on March 14, 2006.
The State’s case against Phillip, who was a minor at the time when Bynoe was killed, was mainly based on the evidence of fellow resident Glenroy Thomas, who allegedly witnessed the crime.
While being cross-examined by defence attorney Selwyn Mohammed, Thomas was accused of visiting Phillip while he was on remand.
Mohammed suggested that Thomas apologized to Phillip for implicating him and admitted that he fabricated the statement which he gave to police. Thomas also allegedly told Phillip that he swore an affidavit detailing how he was coerced into giving the statement.
Responding to Mohammed, Thomas initially denied any wrongdoing as he claimed that he saw Phillip while visiting a friend at the prison, but maintained that they never spoke as claimed.
However, one day after giving evidence at the trial, Thomas made a statutory declaration in which he admitted that Phillip’s claims were actually true and that he identified him based on rumours he heard in the community after Bynoe’s death.
After Mohammed tendered the declaration into evidence, State prosecutor Hema Sundarsingh successfully applied for him to be deemed a hostile witness.
Mohammed then brought a no-case submission as he claimed that the evidence against Phillip was manifestly unreliable because of what transpired.
The application was dismissed by Waterman-Latchoo, who then offered Phillip an opportunity to testify in his defence. Phillip declined.
Waterman-Latchoo then acquitted him of the crime.
The trial in the case began in late March but was postponed after the Judiciary introduced new rules advising against physical hearing in courts due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The trial resumed after the parties agreed to continue using video conferencing software, as is being done for most cases currently.
Phillip was also represented by Susan Kalipersad.