Vincia James’ family disappointed by judge’s decision, prosecution to appeal

Former murder accused Mikhail Gomes leaving the High Court yesterday, noticeably happy to be a free man. Vincia James
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By Latrishka Thomas

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“God has the final say!” The family and friends of Vincia James shouted this repeatedly at former murder accused Mikhail Gomes as he exited the courthouse yesterday with a broad smile on his face having heard that he is free.

The women were hysterical having heard that there will apparently be no justice for the presumed murder of their loved one.

The mother of the missing woman, Jeriann Haywood, was the most inconsolable. She told Observer that the family “is not happy with the decision”, but was not surprised given the number of exhibits that were deemed inadmissible.

Gomes was accused of killing his ex-girlfriend who disappeared almost six years ago. James, a mother-of-one, was last seen on surveillance camera leaving her Old Parham Road workplace, Dixie Betting Company, shortly after 1pm on April 7 2017, and has never been seen since.

The Crown’s case was based primarily on circumstantial evidence as James’ body has never been found.

They however managed to portray Gomes as an abusive boyfriend who stalked James and caused her to fear for her life.

But due to a number of administrative issues, some evidence fell short of the legal standard and could not be used in the trial.

The trial lasted about three weeks and at the end, Gomes’ lawyer Lawrence Daniels presented a ‘no case’ submission to the court proclaiming that the evidence presented in the trial was sparse.

It was up to Justice Colin Williams to decide if that was indeed the case.

In coming to his decision, the judge noted the bits of evidence that were presented.

Those included acts of violence against James, a bag of James’ personal items found in a pond, Gomes’ lack of an alibi for 1pm-3pm on the day in question, and more.

He however deduced that the strands of circumstantial evidence were not strong enough for the jury to return a guilty verdict.

The judge cited several legal precedents and emphasised one in particular which says “even if all the evidence for the prosecution were accepted and all inferences most favourable to the prosecution which are reasonably open were drawn, a reasonable jury, properly directed, could not reach the conclusion of guilt beyond reasonable doubt”.

Justice Williams also said the prosecution did not put forward the necessary minimum evidence to establish the case.

He concluded by saying “what is absent is a sufficiency of circumstances which, if they are resolved to the Crown’s favour, would lead to the inescapable conclusion that the defendant is guilty of the offence of murder”.

The judge therefore upheld the defence’s no case submission and instructed the jury to return a not guilty verdict.

The prosecution – led by Montserrat’s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Oris Sullivan and assisted by prosecutor Daniel Lattery and another prosecutor from the local DPP’s office – then notified the court that they will be appealing the decision.

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