Mon | Sep 26, 2022

Amend law to compensate persons falsely accused

Attorneys call for changes to system following acquittal of Good Samaritan who saved boy from dog attack

Published:Sunday | August 15, 2021 | 12:10 AMBarbara Gayle - Sunday Gleaner Writer
Renford Kerr, a 34-year-old self-employed electrician of Mango Valley, was driving when he saw two dogs attacking the boy who was on the road.
Renford Kerr, a 34-year-old self-employed electrician of Mango Valley, was driving when he saw two dogs attacking the boy who was on the road.
Attorney-at-law Peter Champagnie
Attorney-at-law Peter Champagnie
Attorney-at-law Bert Samuels
Attorney-at-law Bert Samuels
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A man who spent four days in jail and faced a criminal charge after he rescued a 10-year-old boy from being mauled to death by two vicious dogs says he has no regrets in doing what he did to save the boy’s life.

Referred to by many in the parish of St Mary as a Good Samaritan, Renford Kerr gave a vivid description of how he saved the boy’s life in Mango Valley district, St Mary, on February 4 last year.

Kerr’s acquittal last week of a charge of assaulting the owner of the dogs has led to some lawyers calling for an amendment to the law for defendants to be compensated by a trial judge when complainants have given false testimonies.

Kerr, a 34-year-old self-employed electrician of Mango Valley, was driving when he saw two dogs attacking the boy who was on the road.

“I drove very fast, honking the horn to see if the dogs would run but they refused to retreat. When I reached to the spot, I jumped out of my vehicle, picked up some stones and threw them at the dogs. A female passenger (Shawna Lee Kelly) assisted me to rescue the boy from the dogs,” he recounted.

BLEEDING FROM INJURIES

He said he chased the dogs into their yard and Taneisha Williams, the owner of the dogs, came out. Kerr said the boy was bleeding from injuries and he told her to check on the child but she refused.

“I was expecting her to at least say thank you for rescuing the child but instead she chased me out of her yard,” he said.

Kerr took the child to his mother and thought that was the end of the matter. However, he said to his surprise, the police contacted him a month later and told him they had a warrant for his arrest. He was charged with assaulting Williams.

“The first night in jail I fainted and the police had to put me in a passage. I spent four days in jail before I was taken to court where I was granted bail,” he said.

“I was traumatised by the turn of events and my 10-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter were also traumatised when they heard I was in jail.”

In March this year, Kerr said Williams, the complainant, told the court that she wanted him to leave the community because he was provoking her. He said he did not interfere with Williams but one of his lawyers, Veroneath Morris, suggested that if he could find somewhere else to live he should do so. He said he had to relocate with his children to another area where he had to pay rent.

Last week Tuesday, Kerr was freed on a no-case submission after his lawyers argued that the testimony of the complainant was totally discredited. They pointed out that the evidence revealed that there were no injuries to Williams – observed by both the police and the doctor who saw the dog owner immediately after the incident. The prosecution conceded and the judge acquitted Kerr.

Now that the matter has been put to rest, Kerr says he is planning to move back to the house he built in Mango Valley.

“I have spent more than a million dollars in legal fees and rent because of just doing a good deed, which led to vicious lies being told by the dog owner that I beat her. I don’t know when I am going to get over this. I am not ashamed to say that I cry all the time over my ordeal and have even lost many jobs as a result of it,” Kerr said.

Kerr has high praises for his legal team comprising Queen’s Counsel Peter Champagnie and Veroneath Morris, who represented him.

A LITIGIOUS PERSON

After the complainant admitted under cross-examination that she had five other cases in court in which she was the complainant, the defence lawyers referred to her as a litigious person but she said it was not true.

Champagnie said the law gives the power for the trial judge to order an accused to compensate a complainant, therefore, the law should be amended to give the judge the power to conduct a hearing after an acquittal and give compensation to accused persons in cases where complainants have told lies to have accused persons arrested and charged.

He said in law, compensation exists for the complainant in a criminal trial, therefore, the judge who hears the case would be better able to assess damages for an accused.

“This would avoid the necessity of persons acquitted based on false testimonies to have to go to the civil courts to file a claim which oftentimes takes years to be heard and is costly,” noted Champagnie.

Senior attorney-at-law Bert Samuels said the system is not geared for compensation to be paid to a defendant in a criminal hearing. He said it was only geared for the defendants to compensate the complainant.

Samuels said most times cases take so long to be completed that the Statute of Limitations run out on the defendant, so there cannot be a suit for false imprisonment in a civil court.

Samuels is calling for an amendment to the law, whereby the judge who presides over the trial and hears all the lies can convene a civil hearing and order compensation for the defendant.

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