DPP talks witness care
BARBADOS MAY HAVE to look at putting a witness charter in place to guarantee some measure of comfort to witnesses in criminal cases.
This comment by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Charles Leacock follows concerns expressed earlier this week by a High Court judge and a senior prosecutor that a trend had been developing where eyewitnesses were changing their tunes when the cases reached the High Court.
Leacock said to amend the law and make the statements of witnesses in the lower courts admissible in a high court would still create a credibility issue before a jury.
The truthfulness of a witness was still at the core of any statement, Leacock told the WEEKEND?NATION?yesterday.
“The way forward as I see it is that we will have to provide something that has been donein other Commonwealth countries like providing a charter for witness care . . . .”
Leacock said there was legislation to deal with issues like corruption and attempting to pervert the course of justice, but what became more problematic was when witnesses changed their evidence and did not give a reason.
“The problem area is how do you deal with witnesses who changed their minds without giving a reason . . . .
“The other thing you can do is deem the witness a hostile witness and proceed with the trial.
But when you do that,it inherently puts the credibility of the evidence in doubt,” he added.
Justice Randall Worrell during a murder trial Tuesday in which the accused was set free because of an eyewitness recanting his story said the most recent trend was another sign of the decay of Barbadian society and its moral fabric. (TS)