An apparent blunder by a prosecutor in the case of the brutal murder of Sean Luke may potentially lead to one or two of the men accused of the heinous crime walking free without going on trial.
Guardian Media understands that while High Court Judge Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds was making arrangements to start a judge-alone trial in the 14-year-old case, late last year, lawyers representing Akeel Mitchell took issue with the fact that the prosecutor appointed for the case had represented him briefly before joining the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
The prosecutor reportedly did not disclose the conflict of interest during her numerous appearances in the case and only accepted responsibility after it was pointed out that the transcripts from the preliminary inquiry in the case showed that she had cross-examined a witness on Mitchell’s behalf.
Mitchell’s legal team then filed an application for a permanent stay of the case against their client as they questioned whether the prosecutor had disclosed privileged information, obtained from her confidential interactions with him to her colleagues, who were assigned to replace her after the issue was raised.
When the case came up for virtual hearing, yesterday, Ramsumair-Hinds gave Mitchell’s lawyers a deadline to file their response to submissions on why the case should proceed, which were filed by State.
During the hearing attorney Evans Welch, who is representing Mitchell’s co-accused Richard Chatoo, submitted that Ramsumair-Hinds’ decision on the stay should also apply to his client although the issue did not directly concern him.
Ramsumair-Hinds is expected to deliver her decision on the stay on January 18.
Sean’s body was found in a sugar cane field near his home at Orange Valley Road in Couva in March 2006.
The six-year-old had been sodomized with a sugar cane stalk that ruptured his intestines and internal organs.
Mitchell, then 15, and 12-year-old Chatoo were charged with the crime.
Luke’s murder sparked public outrage and is still considered to be one of the most gruesome killings in recent history.
Mitchell is being represented by Mario Merritt, Kirby Joseph, and Randall Raphael. Anju Bhola, Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal and Sophia Sandy-Smith are prosecuting.