Hole in Maitland’s murder case big as a gateway, says attorney

ATTORNEY Christopher Townsend, who is defending embattled police constable Noel Maitland, on Tuesday rebuffed damning claims against his client made in statements by witnesses and described the prosecution’s case as weak and appearing to clutch at straws, especially as it relates to blood evidence.

During a bail hearing in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, the prosecution made strong appeals for Maitland not to be granted bail, citing possible interference with witnesses, among other concerns. The prosecution revealed a host of allegations against Maitland, who has been charged with murder in relation to his girlfriend Donna-lee Donaldson who went missing in July 2022 . He was also charged with preventing the lawful burial of a corpse.

Maitland will learn on October 13 whether he will receive bail.

“There is a major hole, certainly as large as a gateway in the Crown’s case as they attempt to prove the circumstances that would suggest and point to the guiltiness of Mr Maitland,” Townsend said.

According to the prosecution, Maitland used the services of a truck and received help from a man to remove a red couch from his Chelsea Manor Apartment in New Kingston on July 13. The truck took the couch to a car wash and upholstery cleaner on Lyndhurst Road in St Andrew.

When Maitland arrived at the car wash, he and two other men alighted from his motor vehicle and removed the couch from the truck, the prosecution said.

The Crown also told the court that a female attendant at the car wash said Maitland told her that the couch had to be washed because his cousin had suffered an injury to his hand and it bled out in a part of the settee. Upon examining the couch, the attendant said she observed bloodstains on the right side. After being instructed by Maitland not to pour bleach on it, the attendant sprayed it with degreaser and began washing it. She then said aloud that whoever the blood belonged to must have been killed in the couch.

According to the prosecution, the comment was made in close proximity to Maitland and his two companions, but neither of them responded. Maitland, the prosecution said, supplied the woman with three bottles of vinegar to pour on the settee to address the raw smell coming from it. The constable, said the statement, then took a spray gun and began to wash it himself. He and his companions then left.

The attendant described what she saw as “blood like rice grain”, and even after she washed it, she said it was covered with flies and was still raw.

The prosecution also told the court that a neighbour of Maitland, who has numerous cameras on his property, was visited by the constable who expressed concern that he may have been caught on the tapes. He requested that the files be deleted, but the neighbour refused and later told the authorities that he felt he was being pressured by Maitland.

The court learned that scientists from the Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine went to Maitland’s apartment and analysis of biological evidence indicated that stains matched DNA from Donaldson’s toothbrush. Partial DNA profile taken from stains on red and black sneakers matched the DNA profile from the toothbrush.

Cell site evidence was also said to have placed both Maitland and Donaldson in the same location on July 12.

Townsend told the court that the requirement for determining bail is whether or not the accused will present himself for trial. The attorney rubbished the claim of the car wash attendant who said the substance on the couch was blood. He also challenged the credibility of the video footage captured by cameras from the neighbour’s house and a camera at the entrance of Chelsea Manor.

“It is notorious in this case that the police sent several forensic teams — three of which I know of personally because I was contacted personally. That being the case, we are extremely suspicious as it relates to the finding or discovery of this blood in the apartment. Even if that was so, we do not know the age of this blood, when it is that the blood got there, or the circumstances under which the blood got there. Blood is found, according to them, on a shoe, on a curtain. We don’t know who. According to the prosecution, the young lady is not unknown to those premises.

“From what the witness from the car wash is saying, Mr Maitland and others took a red settee there and when the red settee was being washed something looking like blood came out. Nobody has tested to say that this substance [is blood]. Could it be the red dye running out? Since they can’t say that it is blood, then it is not blood. There is nothing before this court to say that there was any blood in any settee,” Townsend said.

In relation to the camera, the attorney said the reality is that it only shows a particular frame, excluding the gate. “The camera at the gate shows vehicles coming in and out, which is not captured by the camera that you are relying on,” he said.

He also addressed the use of cell sites by the prosecution, saying, “We do know that cell sites operate within a 21-kilometre radius, which means that you can be anywhere within any cell site and you would be connected. You can be close to one site which is full and automatically it would transfer you to another site. The cell site data they are submitting does not assist at all.”

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