R (Ralston Wellington) v the Secretary of State for the Home Department

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeMr Justice Mitting,MR JUSTICE MITTING
Judgment Date18 May 2007
Neutral Citation[2004] EWHC 418 (Admin),[2007] EWHC 1109 (Admin)
Docket NumberCO/2883/2002
CourtQueen's Bench Division (Administrative Court)
Date18 May 2007
In The Matter Of An Application For A Writ Of Habeas Corpus Ad Subjiciendum
In The Matter Of The Extradition Act 1989
Ralston Wellington
Applicant
and
The Governor Of Her Majesty's Prison Belmarsh
The Government Of The United States Of America
Respondents

[2004] EWHC 418 (Admin)

Before:

The Lord Chief Justice Of England and Wales

(the Lord Woolf Of Barnes) and

Mr Justice Mitting

CO/2883/2002

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

ADMINISTRATIVE COURT

DIVISIONAL COURT

Royal Courts of Justice

The Strand

London

MR GARETH PATTERSON (instructed by Messrs Russell-Cooke Potter & Chapman, London SW15 6AB appeared on behalf of THE APPLICANT

MISS ADINA EZEKIEL (instructed by Crown Prosecution Service, Central Casework, London EC4M 7EX) appeared on behalf of THE RESPONDENT

Monday 23 June 2003

THE LORD CHIEF JUSTICE: I will ask Mr Justice Mitting to give the first judgment.

MR JUSTICE MITTING
1

On 13 February 1997 at an address in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, three people were shot several times by a number of armed intruders. Two of the victims, Lakesha La Master and John Bonner, died as a result of their injuries. The third victim, JoVonn LaMaster, survived the incident. The Government of the United States of America alleges that the applicant was one of the armed intruders and therefore seeks his extradition.

2

The applicant is a 30 year old Jamaican national, born on 11 May 1973. He has been accused of two offences of murder, one of attempted murder, wounding with intent, aggravated burglary and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.

3

The main prosecution evidence relied upon by the Government of the United States is that provided in the transcripts of two video interviews given by Alonda Daniels on 15 and 17 February 1997 to Detective Carney. She has adopted the transcripts and states that she had read them thoroughly and that their content is true and accurate. The applicant's solicitors pointed to inaccuracies and contradictions in Alonda Daniels' account and queried whether her evidence is sufficient to found an extradition claim. They also pointed out that no evidence had been served which suggested that there were any eye-witnesses such as the surviving victim, who have identified the applicant.

4

According to Miss Daniels' account the applicant had been staying at her home for two weeks whilst she stayed elsewhere. She gave him keys to her property, despite knowing or suspecting that he was a drug dealer. On 13 February she was paged by him whilst shopping. She contacted him by telephone and went to meet him. When they met he was angry. He complained that $50,000 or $70,000 had been stolen from the house he had been staying in by the person he referred to as Miss Daniels' "brother" (in fact the son of her father's girlfriend). She told the applicant where her brother could be found.

5

In order to recover the stolen money the applicant and a number of other men, she said, armed themselves with guns. In her second interview she named four men, despite the fact that she had said in the first interview that she could only name the applicant. The evidence of the surviving victim of the attack suggests that there may only have been three men. The applicant then demanded that Miss Daniels drive them to 3836 Montgall, where he believed her brother would be. Having dropped her children off at an apartment, she drove them to the property. The defence contended that that action was motivated by a desire that the children should be out of the way so as not to prevent the offences from being committed.

6

Once at the property Miss Daniels sat in the car with one of the applicant's group who was armed with a gun. She heard gunshots coming from inside the address. The applicant and the others returned to the car and demanded that she drive them away from the scene. Whilst driving to a hotel the applicant allegedly said several times that he had shot a man in the face four or five times and had shot a girl in the head. The victims were male and female respectively, but the pathologist's evidence suggested that they had received gunshot wounds to their lower torsos and legs rather than their heads.

7

Once at the hotel Miss Daniels gave a false identity and lied to hotel staff about the car that she had been using. She stated that she was driving a different one from that which had actually been driving. After they had been shown to a hotel room the applicant told her to leave, which she did. She was, it seems, arrested herself because she had been the driver of the car which had taken the applicant and others to the scene of the crime. She was arrested on 14 February and gave the interviews referred to on 15 and 17 February. She identified the applicant from amongst six photographs on 14 February.

8

On 16 December 1997 a criminal complaint was filed before the County Circuit Court charging the applicant with the offences for which extradition is sought. On the same day a warrant for the arrest of the applicant was issued by the Circuit Court of Jackson County. The applicant was arrested at Streatham Police Station by Detective Constable Munro on a provisional warrant on 29 January 2003. On 30 January he appeared before Bow Streets Magistrates' Court and was remanded in custody.

9

The applicant made a request for information from the United States Government on 22 July 2003. The requests were for statements of witnesses identified in a document in the extradition papers and in particular statements from Brandon Winston and Vallgene Friday who, it was said, had told the police that the applicant was not involved in the shootings. They asked for details of the procedures by which the applicant was identified, and in particular referred to the alleged absence of identification of him by JoVonn LaMaster, the eye-witness in the house where the shooting occurred. They also asked for the evidence against Miss Daniels which led to her arrest and for details of any police record relating to her. They asked for details of the circumstances in which her arrest came to an end and for details of all other accounts given by her, relying on indications in the video-recorded statements that she had had some dealings with the police on 14 February 1997 when she picked out and signed the photograph to which I have referred. They sought copies of the videos of the interviews and requested an answer to the question why three others named by Miss Daniels had not been charged. They asked for details of the injuries to JoVonn LaMaster.

10

In summary the United States Government's responses to the request were, first of all, that there was no duty to disclose evidence in response to the request. In an e-mail of 25 September 2003, Jason Carter of the United States Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Office of International Affairs, said:

"With regard to disclosure of information in connection with a prosecution, the defence's assertion that it is entitled to discovery when the defendant has voluntarily absented himself from this jurisdiction is absurd. If he is present here and going to trial, then he is entitled to certain documents. However, he cannot have his cake and eat it too by being absent and then seeking to use to his benefit the law that he is avoiding. As a fugitive, he is disentitled from doing so."

11

In fact the local Jackson County prosecuting attorney provided some limited information in response to the request to which I have referred, and, most important in the course of the extradition proceedings Miss Ezekiel asserted that the United States Government accept that any prior statements made by Miss Daniels which were "so extreme as to make her evidence worthless" should be disclosed. There is no indication of the existence of any such statement in any of the material put before us.

12

The extradition committal proceedings occurred on 15 October 2003. It is accepted that all formalities were properly complied with.

13

Submissions were made on behalf of the applicant that the Government had a duty to disclose specific information and material arising out of the investigation into the allegations against the applicant similar to the duty which is imposed upon a prosecuting authority in this country in respect of criminal proceedings here and submitted that in the absence of such disclosure the proceedings should be adjourned to enable the applicant's solicitors to attempt to obtain the information themselves. It was also submitted that the evidence of Miss Daniels should be excluded under section 78 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, and that the evidence did not warrant or justify committal.

14

In his brief ruling District Judge Pratt rejected the application for an adjournment. He noted that there had been indications of bad faith on the part of the US Government, but could find no trace of such bad faith in the documents to which he was referred. He concluded that he had no power to order disclosure of the specific items requested by the applicant's solicitors and that an adjournment would achieve nothing save delay.

15

The law which he was required to apply, and to which I now turn, is that which applied to extradition proceedings before 1 January 2004, when the Extradition Act 2003 came into force. A number of uncontroversial points can be made:

(1) There are two procedures for extradition between the United Kingdom and foreign states. First, where there is an Order in Council made under section 2 of the Extradition Act 1870, the procedure is laid down in Schedule 1 of the Extradition Act 1989.

(2) Where the Order in Council has been made under section 4 of the Extradition Act 1989, the procedure is laid down in Part III. The newer procedure permits extradition without...

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