By LR Liburd
The St. Kitts-Nevis Observer
A resident of St. Paul’s Village on Monday (Jun. 13) walked out of the Basseterre High Court a free man after spending four and a half years on remand at Her Majesty’s Prison on a murder charge.
The 32-year-old man, Shaheed Williams, was charged along with two other men on Wednesday, February 29, 2012 with the murder of St. Paul’s shopkeeper Wingrove Parris.
According to reports, Parris was robbed and gunned down outside his business establishment in St. Paul’s Village shortly after closing its doors on the night of Sunday, February 26, 2012.
He was shot multiple times and pronounced dead on arrival at the Pogson Hospital in Sandy Point.
Since then, Williams was remanded to prison while the charges against the other men were withdrawn sometime later on their attendance at court.
On appearance at the Basseterre High Court before Her Ladyship Justice Marlene Carter on Monday, Williams was represented by Attorney-at-Law Chesley Hamilton, and the prosecution was led by Crown Counsel Dane Hamilton, QC, who was assisted by Crown Counsels Tesean Vasquez and Greatess Gordon.
The prosecutors offered no evidence against the accused and the matter was dismissed for want of prosecution.
Speaking with The Observer, defence counsel Hamilton pointed out that Williams’ case did not go to trial and offered an explanation.
“Williams’ matter should have gone to trial at the High Court on Monday, but last week the prosecution served on me notice to produce new evidence at that the leading investigator was out of the country and they wanted to read into his evidence given at the preliminary inquiry,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton declared that he had a difficulty with the notice because the sole and decisive witness to the alleged confession statement given by Williams, which needed a voir dire [hearing within a hearing], was not present to conduct neither the initial hearing nor the main trial.
He stated that the main witness in the matter is former Head of the Criminal Investigation Department, Superintendent Charles Smithen.
The defence counsel inferred that the prosecution was creating some real difficulties in law to prosecute their case.
“The Queens Counsel, Hamilton, had recognised those challenges and asked for the case to be dismissed for the want of prosecution,” he said.
Prior to the prosecution’s request, the defence counsel stated that he was not agreeing to any adjournment after four and a half years, arguing that he had applied for additional disclosure but did not receive same, and that the defence were not willing to facilitate any further delay in the matter.
He also argued that an adjournment would create more problems than it would solve.
Hamilton said the judge had considered everything and accepted the prosecution’s application to dismiss the case for want of prosecution.
“It would have been unfair for the judge to exercise her discretion to accept evidence of such a witness in such circumstances without the chance having the opportunity to cross examine the validity and admissibility of the star witness’ evidence,” Hamilton opined.
In spite of his four and a half years incarceration for a crime that has proven he did not commit, and in an institution that is branded “the University of Crime”, Shaheed Williams spent those years doing something positive with his life.
In March of this year, he was among a five-member group of inmates who were guest on Winn FM’s ‘Voices’ programme hosted by Nirish Nital.
It was disclosed on that programme that the five men had achieved passes in 36 CXC subjects; Williams gained nine including Human and Social Biology, Biology and Physics.