Lawyers representing one of the two men accused of murdering 6-year-old Sean Luke have failed in yet another attempt to prevent him from going on trial.
Delivering a 16-page decision yesterday, High Court Judge Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds dismissed an application to quash the indictment against 28-year-old Akeel Mitchell.
Ramsumair-Hinds’ decision on the issue comes less than a month after she rejected another application seeking to have the case permanently stayed due to allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.
In her judgment, Ramsumair-Hinds noted that Mitchell’s lawyers were claiming that there was insufficient evidence linking their client to the heinous crime.
“The defence has not suggested that there is no evidence. Rather, they have examined their perspective on the weight of that evidence by engaging in a premature analysis usually reserved for a no-case submission that can scarcely be veiled as anything else,” Ramsumair-Hinds said.
Stating she had no jurisdiction to consider such the application, Ramsumair-Hinds questioned why it was not brought well before she began to deal with pre-trial issues, earlier this month.
“May I add here that, even if I were to decide that I was seized of such jurisdiction, on the facts of the case, this motion would nevertheless fail,” she said.
Mitchell, now 28, and 30-year-old Richard Chatoo are accused of murdering Luke on an unknown date between Match 25 and 29, 2006.
Luke went missing from his home at Orange Valley Road in Couva and his body was found in a near-by sugar cane field.
The high-profile case, which is still considered to be one of the most gruesome killings in recent history, has not been free of controversy.
Earlier this month, Mitchell’s lawyers brought an application to stay the case based on the fact that a prosecutor, who was initially assigned to it, represented him before she joined the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
The application was eventually dismissed by Ramsumair-Hinds, who criticised the prosecutor but ruled that the case was not prejudiced as she (the prosecutor) had minimal involvement up to that point.
Ramsumair-Hinds is currently engaged in resolving pre-trial issues before the judge-alone trial kicks off before her on March 15.
Ramsumair-Hinds has also been given the green light for a hybrid trial, in which some contentious witness will testify in person at a courthouse while the rest will testify virtually, both in accordance with the Judiciary’s ongoing practice directions for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mitchell is being represented by Mario Merritt, Kirby Joseph and Randall Raphael while Evans Welch, Kelston Pope and Gabriel Hernandez are representing Chatoo.
Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal, Anju Bhola and Sophia Sandy-Smith are prosecuting.