Mistrial in blackmail case

Entertainer and model Ronnie Morris will have to go through another trial later this year as a mistrial was ordered against one of two people accused of blackmailing him 13 years ago.

A formal verdict of not guilty was entered against the second accused.

It was on Monday that the blackmail trial against cousins Andrew Melvin Franklin and Carol-Ann Yolando McClean began in the No. 5 Supreme Court.

Franklin and McClean, both of Edgecumbe Tenantry, St Philip, were charged that between March 21 and April 21, 2011, with a view to gain for themselves, they made an unwarranted demand of $25 500 from Morris with menaces.

They also denied that between March 22 and April 17, 2011, with a view to gain for themselves, they made an unwarranted demand of $12 100 from Morris with menaces.

Principal State Counsel Olivia Davis and State Counsel Eleazar Williams prosecuted. Franklin was represented by attorney Samuel Legay, while King’s Counsel Michael Lashley appeared for McClean.

Last Thursday, Davis made submissions in the absence of the jury.

Justice Pamela Beckles later told the jurors the prosecutor had made submissions about certain developments with respect to McClean, and those submissions had been accepted by defence counsel.

She then ordered the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty against McClean.

The judge explained that as a result of those developments, in relation to Franklin, “certain developments took place and we had to confirm certain things which we did yesterday [Wednesday]”.

“As a result of that, I have no choice but to declare a mistrial in this matter. A mistrial does not mean that it has been discontinued or dismissed. What a mistrial means is that we have to have another trial at a later date,” she said.

She then declared a mistrial in Franklin’s matter and adjourned it until later in the year.

“I would like to thank the court and I will like to thank my lawyer,” McClean later said.

“And the prosecutor,” said Justice Beckles. “She operated as a minister of justice and she did what she had to do.” (HLE)

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