(CMR) The trial of Daniel Ezra Meeks (34) continued in Grand Court Wednesday and Thursday as the defendant himself took the stand to present his version of events that lead up to and proceeded him being added as a joint owner of the home of a petitioner. However, what was anticipated to be a “straightforward case” has experienced many twists and turns with the defendant being faced with some tough questions from both the prosecution and sitting judge by the second day of his testimony.
Meeks' lawyer, Margeta Facey-Clarke, called him to the stand after her no-case to answer submission was unsuccessful. She had attempted to discredit the crown's case “as being so weak that it would have rendered a conviction unsafe.” Justice Linda Dobbs did not agree with her and the case continued into the afternoon.
Meeks recounted the events around November 10, 2017, when he was part of the team of police officers that received a call to report to the address in George Town. A 911 call had been received from the 71-old pensioner that her daughter had a violent incident at the family home. The two resided together and it was revealed that they frequently argued because of her inability to obtain gainful employment; placing an undue financial burden on the mother who's a retired widower surviving off a minimal pension.
On this occasion, as had previously occurred, the police were summoned to assist in the matter. However, it was established by the prosecution that this incident was outside of an ordinary domestic call as a social worker and a community development worker had to attend the scene. In fact, the two police officers had some difficulty physically arresting the daughter because of her aggressive state.
The daughter had damaged her mother's room door and destroyed a mobile phone.
Meeks' recollection of the details appeared to be quite definitive and unshakeable on Wednesday; even some two years on.
He contradicted much of what the alleged victim had shared the previous day in her testimony. He shared that she had presented him with the idea to add him as a co-owner on her property so that her handicap grandson would be “taken care of and eventually be returned to the family home.” He testified that she had told him that the government would not take care of him after a certain time and he had no one else that would do so.
He further shared that her statement that he came by uninvited on the 11th was incorrect and that in fact, he attended her home with another officer to obtain her official statement; a requirement before he could interview her daughter who was being held in lockup. He was adamant that the purpose of his return visit the day after the initial incident was not; as she testified to convince her to assist him with obtaining a new home for his family by adding him to her property.
He shared that he took pity on her after she explained her circumstances of being a widower with numerous challenges including a daughter dealing with mental health challenges. His gifts of fruits and water were because he pitied her. He explained that she volunteered quite a bit of personal information and because he was a kind-hearted person who often helped those in need he wanted to assist her. This drove him to also gift her a used cell phone to replace the one that had been destroyed by her daughter.
Explaining why he agreed to become a joint owner on the property of this total stranger; he put into evidence that it was her idea because she was concerned that her daughter was not fit to inherit the house. Wanting to be helpful to the elderly lady he agreed to do so with the primary objective of fulfilling her wishes to be able to take care of her grandson. He claims that he suggested that he would hire a caregiver for her grandson and allow him to move into the family home. He also shared that she wished to keep the transaction private and in particular hidden from her own daughter for fear of her reaction.
However, on today’s cross-examination, Crown Counsel Candia James-Malcolm discredited much of his initial testimony and painted a very different picture. Eventually, she left the defendant changing his narrative and relying upon her evidence to fill in details he was so certain about just 24-hours prior. A once confident witness quickly turned into a man that could not recall the most basic details of what actually transpired. At the end of the day’s session, he appeared almost defeated sitting in the witness box.
James-Malcolm referred back to a number of documents including two separate codes of conduct, the duty reports, emails sent by the defendant and the RMS logs. The following points were proved to be contrary to what Meeks had initially testified. The crown eventually got him to admit to a number of misstatements that he made:
- Dates of the various transactions where not as he had testified. In fact, through the referral back to multiple logs and documents provided it was put to him that his entire timeline of events was off.
- The initial visit was on the 10th of November and he attended the residence the following day to gift the victim a phone; not in any official capacity as he initially claimed.
- He initially claimed to have interviewed the daughter on the 12th when it fact it was the 11th as the filed was then submitted to the DDP’s office on the 12th for an emergency ruling.
- Within a 7 day period, he had visited the victim on 5 separate occasions and “fast-tracked” the lands and survey form to have himself added to her property.
- His statement that he had gone to the victim’s house the day after the initial 911 call to take a statement was incorrect. His corrected statement that he had gone there to take a withdrawal statement from her was also disproven as there was no record of it in the RMS logs or on the DPP's file that he submitted.
- The statement he claimed he took from the victim at her dining room table on the 11th was actually taken the same day as the incident, on the 10th. That statement produced in court was in fact not taken by him at all; it did not have his signature or PC number on it, but instead the officer that accompanied him.
- Meeks was aware of the mental health issues of the victim's daughter and had in fact been to the residence the previous month despite his initial statements to the contrary.
- It was put to him that despite his original testimony there was, in fact, no reason for him to attend the victim’s house to further the investigation in any way.
- He visited the handicap grandson after he has submitted the government documents to complete the property transaction. This left the crown to inquire how a father of young twin girls would commit to taking on the additional responsibility of overseeing the care of a special needs child – when he had no idea of the severity of his condition and took no steps to inquire about them.
- The meeting with the JP to sign the legal documents was arranged by his wife at her workplace. The JP testified that someone told him that the elderly lady accompanying Meeks was his mother-in-law. He denied he would have said that but perhaps his wife did. The crown put to him that the reason why he wanted to set up the appearance of a familiar relationship was to attempt to get the stamp duty waived for “love and affection.”
- Eventually, when one his own emails were put to him he conceded that it was, in fact, his idea to be added jointly on her property and not the victim's as he had stated the day before. – claiming that her initial offer of being added to her will could potentially be too contentious given “family traits and behavior after death.”
- He sought no legal advice on the transaction nor did he report the matter to any of his numerous supervisors.
- Upon realizing that the victim had filed a police report and attempted to have the transaction blocked by contacting the lands and surveying department he submitted several emails to L&S staff.
The crown presented a compelling image of an elderly pensioner who was very vulnerable and was reported to be “shaking uncontrollably and involuntarily out of fear of her daughter.” She further noted that an 18-year seasoned police officer having some experience with vulnerable victims should have been able to see the dangers of engaging in any personal contact with her for more than one reason. She put to him that the investigation itself could be compromised as well ash he was acting in flagrant disregard of his professional responsibilities.
It was put forward that he purposely took advantage of her vulnerability in direct contravention of his codes of conduct and good policing principles. The crown submitted to him that he was seeking to personally gain from the transaction so that he could acquire a loan to purchase a condo of his own and acted in blatant disregard of his duties as a police officer.
The judge also asked him a number of questions seeking to clarify his actions and understand elements of what transpired. In one instance, she inquired as to why he would have waited months to read the letter the victims submitted to L&S seeing to reverse the transition. This letter played prominently in his testimony as he claims when he read that he was most concerned about the allegations she made against him that he continues to claim are untrue. Despite that, he admitted today the November 27 letter was not read by him before early January; despite being aware of the letter and having access to it. This left the judge perplexed.
Towards the end of his testimony, Meeks was making baffling statements such as “I am trying to remember why I returned.” He further admitted that numerous details of this arrangement he entered into were not properly considered such as the relevant stamp duty to be paid which was in excess of $20,000 and how he proposed to actually pay for and take care of the handicap grandson. Ironically, during his testimony, he repeatedly referred to the grandson as Matthew; when his name is nothing close to that.
Appearing beaten down by the barrage of questions from both the prosecution and judge he admitted that the entire affair was:
”done out of character and the entire affair was outside the realm of my character.”
Meeks was with the RCIPS for six years and was on his second three-year fixed-term contract at the time of this incident. He admitted to being a police officer in Jamaica eight years prior to that. His contract was not renewed in December 2017 after the incident came to light. He did sue the RCIPS in October 2018.
Note: CMR has chosen not to name the alleged victim, daughter or grandson due to the sensitive nature of their situation.