Court heard appellant robbed victim twice in a year
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The appellate court has dismissed the appeal of a convicted robber who was accused of robbing a man at gunpoint for the second time in a year.
Court of Appeal Justices Sir Micharl Barnett, Roy Jones and Milton Evans presided over the matter.
Attorney Cordell Frazier represented the Crown.
Jocelyn Similien was convicted of armed robbery in June 2018 and sentenced to 10 years in the Department of Correctional Services.
He was accused of robbing Rueben Sears with another man while Sears disposed of trash outside his home in May 2012.
According to court documents, one of the men held a gun to Sears’ head and demanded cash, while the other searched his pocket and took his wallet, cell phone and keys.
Sears identified Similien during an identification lineup as one of the men who robbed him and also as the man who held the gun to his head.
He testified that he recognized both men because they had previously robbed him in 2011 after allegedly entering his home unmasked.
The appellate court acknowledged Sears’ statement that the appellant robbed him a year earlier was prejudicial, but said the judge was entitled to admit the evidence if she was satisfied its probative value outweighed its prejudicial effect.
“It is no doubt that it had probative value to the quality of Mr Sears identification evidence,” the appeals court ruled.
The trial judge rejected a no case submission on Similien’s behalf.
He elected to exercise his right to remain silent and did not give evidence.
A jury convicted him by a majority verdict: seven to two.
He appealed on the basis the trial judge did not give proper directions to the jury with respect to the identification line up and that the trial judge “erred when she allowed the case to proceed or continue before the jury because of inconsistencies”.
But the appellate court determined the appeal had no merit and the judge was fair.
“In our judgment the trial judge was very fair in her directions as to the appellant’s case,” read the ruling.
“It is to be noted that in her directions the judge did not draw any attention to Mr Sears’ evidence that the appellant had robbed him before.
“It was a matter for the jury whether they accepted the evidence of Mr Sears. This ground has no merit.”
The appellate court said where there is sufficient evidence, the weight of any contradictions or inconsistencies, as well as the credibility of a witness, are matters for the jury.
“The judge is obliged to point out inconsistencies and other matters which may affect the credibility of a witness’s testimony and she did so,” read the ruling.
“There can be no criticism of the directions to the jury with regard to inconsistencies as set out in the summation.
“It is part of the background of the identification evidence to show the strength of Mr Sears visual identification of the appellant. No doubt the statement that the appellant robbed him a year earlier was prejudicial to the appellant.
“However, the judge is entitled to admit that evidence if she was satisfied that its probative value outweigh its prejudicial effect. It is no doubt that it had probative value to the quality of Mr Sears identification evidence.
“The judge did not, in her direction, give any special attention to Mr Sear’s statement that the appellant had robbed him before. In fact, she reminded the jury that the appellant had a good character, no previous convictions and that they were entitled to consider his credibility and propensity to have committed this offence of robbery.
“We cannot find that a sentence was unduly harsh which warrants a reduction by an appellate court.”