During Monday’s court hearing for Constable Noel Maitland, prosecutors came under fire for withholding six witness statements from Maitland’s defence in an alleged attempt to pervert the course of justice.
Maitland has been in police custody since he was first arrested on July 27 on suspicion of being involved in the disappearance of his girlfriend, Donna-Lee Donaldson, but he was later charged and further remanded for Donaldson’s murder. Maitland’s bail application was expected to be heard yesterday but was postponed as the defence and the prosecution traded arguments.
According to the Jamaica Gleaner, the prosecution claimed that they were compelled to withhold the information because giving out the details could damage their case and added that they were trying to protect the sources of the withheld statements.
However, this decision was called into question by Maitland’s attorney, Kaysian Kennedy-Sherman, who was sitting in for Christopher Townsend.
The prosecution later announced their intention to enter a nolle prosequi to have the case against Maitland transferred from the Parish Court to the Home Circuit Court. Then they went on to argue that the contents of the preliminary report they provided should be sufficient for the defence to make a bail application, despite the withheld statements. Nine police witness statements, two civilian statements, including that of Donaldson’s mother, and five crime-scene discs were all part of the limited disclosure to the defence.
The presiding Parish Judge, Lori-Ann Cole Montague, stated during the hearing that although she was aware of particular precautions taken to guarantee the safety of state witnesses, the prosecution also had a duty to provide full disclosure to the defence. Judge Cole Montague noted that there had been no previous attempts to shield the names, and they had, in fact, previously been revealed to the defence.
The prosecution, however, maintained that at least one incidence of witness interference had already occurred, with one witness so fearful that he had not gone to work for several days.
The prosecution requested that the case be relisted for Thursday, but Kennedy-Sherman objected on the grounds that the defence had commitments to other clients. Maitland was given additional detention until September 16, when the bail request is expected to be heard.