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By Latrishka Thomas

Alleged serial killer Delano Forbes has one less charge hanging over his head after being acquitted of escaping lawful custody.

“It is highly impossible for one to jump 30 feet off a cliff with foot cuffs on and not sustain severe injuries,” Magistrate Ngaio Emanuel-Edwards declared prior to delivering a not guilty verdict to the murder accused yesterday.

The 25-year-old, who was dubbed the ‘vampire killer’ by police who claimed he drank the blood of his victims, was said to have evaded police in February 2018 after being charged with the murders of Wilfred “Bongo” Williams, Shawn Henry, and Lisue “Dirty” Williams in December 2017.

Yesterday, the magistrate told the court that based on the evidence given in the trial about a month ago, only one of the two elements needed to effect a guilty plea had been met. Therefore, the magistrate said she was satisfied that he was lawfully detained, but not that he escaped or attempted to escape.

According to Magistrate Emanuel-Edwards, evidence given by ASP Rodney Ellis and ASP Lisbon Michael during the trial “did not assist the prosecution’s case”.

And three other officers merely corroborated that the defendant was closest to Corporal Greg Grell during the supposed search for evidence in bushes in Swetes Village.

“It is undisputed that Grell led the entire operation,” she said.

She also noted that Officer Grell did not sound an alarm with his firearm when the defendant supposedly escaped, but merely stated “the man get way”.

Emanuel-Edwards also noted that the evidence given by officer Alpheus O’Garro was important as “he mentioned how much further into the bushes was needed and requested that the parties turn back as the bushes were getting higher and thicker,” she added.

She concluded that the following factors led to her ruling: “The warrant was wrongfully obtained; there was no back-up police to cordon off the area of interest; the lack of enthusiasm to recapture the prisoner as soon as he escaped; there was no definitive report as to the whereabouts of the keys to the said foot cuffs. Moreso, there was no evidence from the prosecution as to whether the foot cuffs were on his feet when he was recaptured several weeks later”.

The tenets behind Magistrate Emanuel-Edwards’ decision were embedded in defence lawyer Sherfield Bowen’s arguments.

One of his main points was that Forbes was not lawfully in police custody but rather in the custody of the prison because the warrant used to remove him from the institution was defective.

Forbes is now free of one charge but is still on remand awaiting trial in the High Court for four murders.

The fourth murder charge is related to 62-year-old Matthew’s Village resident, Maurison Thomas.

That charge was served upon the defendant when he was recaptured after a month on the run.

Escaping police custody carries a maximum sentence of three months in prison.

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