A 28-year-old St James security guard was found not guilty of assault after being accused of assaulting a woman at a medical facility four years ago while she was there to pick up an X-ray result.
Presiding Judge Sasha-Marie Smith-Ashley delivered the verdict when the case was called up in the St James Parish Court on Friday.
The accused, Alwayne Reid, was employed to Cornwall Regional Hospital as a security guard at the time of the incident.
According to court documents, on April 12, 2019, the complainant, Renee Brown, who was also charged and acquitted, went to the Cornwall Regional Hospital to collect an X-ray for her mother, but the staff couldn’t locate it.
While waiting, she expressed her dissatisfaction with the service and continued to argue until the document was found.
Reid then told her, “You got what you wanted now, so leave.” In response, the complainant asked, “If I don’t leave what are you going to do?”
Reid then allegedly punched the woman in the face, grabbed her shoulder, and dragged her outside of the facility.
A team of Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) officers and Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) soldiers intervened and took them to the Mount Salem Police Station, where both were charged with assault occasioning bodily harm.
During Friday’s proceedings, Reid chose to give his statement from the prisoner’s dock.
According to the defendant, he was at work when he received a phone call from the receptionist on the first floor asking him to look for a file for a patient. He stated that he went to the X-ray department to look for the file but was unable to locate it. As a result, he said, he returned to the reception area and informed the receptionist that he couldn’t find the document.
He said that he noticed Brown at the front desk, who overheard him telling the receptionist that he couldn’t find the file. Brown, he said, then turned to him and suggested that he search in a specific doctor’s office. He and the receptionist then went into the doctor’s office and searched but were unable to locate the file.
Reid went on to say that when he returned to the reception area, Brown became agitated and cursed the receptionist. He claimed that the receptionist then called the doctor, who told her where to look for the document, and that she went back to the doctor’s office alone and found it.
According to him, the receptionist then passed the document to Brown, who grabbed it and began cursing her.
“I was standing at the reception area and realised things were getting more heated, so I went to try and calm her down and gently rest my hand on her shoulder and tried to escort her through the door,” Reid recounted.
While attempting to escort her through the door, he indicated to her that now that she had obtained the item she desired, she should not argue with the staff and should leave. But Brown, he claimed, responded by asking, “If I don’t leave, what are you going to do?”
Brown then fisted and boxed him in the face, he said, forcing him to defend himself.
He claimed that at that point, a JDF soldier passing by saw what was going on and exited the vehicle to intervene. He stated that the soldier then put him in the van and drove him to the Mount Salem Police Station, where an officer told him to seek medical attention, which he did.
He stated that he proceeded to give a statement before being contacted and given a court date.
In his response, the prosecutor pointed out that Brown was struck by Reid, that those areas were swollen, and that she had bloodshot eyes and busted lips, and that she was struck first, according to the Crown’s case.
“During cross-examination, several suggestions were put to her by counsel. It was suggested to her that the injuries she sustained that day was a result of Mr Reid defending himself, to which she disagreed…It was also put to her that she slapped him in the face and punched him in the chest, and her response to that suggestion to counsel was that he was wrong,” the prosecutor said.
The prosecuted pointed out that Brown has been consistent with her evidence, responded to each suggestion put to her by counsel, and that the matter was one of credibility.
In response, Reid’s lawyer, Albert Morgan, stated that the complainant admitted that she was upset.
“What seems to have happened is that she misunderstood my client’s intent. When he touched her and said, ‘go on now’, she probably viewed that as an assault and attacked him…The Crown has not negatised the claim of self-defence as raised by my client,” the attorney said.
Smith-Ashley stated in her ruling that she found Brown’s account illogical and that she was initially unhelpful in her own evidence.
“There was obviously some administrative issues at the facility and even in her evidence she indicated that she had also tried to assist with obtaining this report for her mother that she had gone there for on that day, and so, from that, we have the accused out of nowhere hitting her and this is somewhere in her expressing displeasure about how the matter was handled,” the judge said.
In light of those circumstances, the judge stated that she did not believe Brown’s account was credible and found Reid not guilty.