CCJ Clarifies the Direction to the Jury where a Witness is Found to be Deliberately Lying on Oath

Today, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) dismissed the appeal in the Barbadian case of James Fields v The State [2023] CCJ 13 (AJ) BB. The appeal raised the question of whether the jury was misdirected by the trial judge on how to treat with a witness whom the jury considered may be deliberately lying on oath. Fields argued that the jury must be directed in accordance with Scantlebury (Mormon) v R. That is, if the jury finds a witness to be deliberately lying on oath, then they must reject all of that witness’ evidence because if they lied about one matter they would be capable of lying about another. The State disagreed that the direction in Scantlebury was proper and contended that issues of credibility and reliability of witnesses are issues for the jury alone. On 23 July 2010, Fields was arrested and charged with the common law offence of murder. He was eventually found guilty of manslaughter and was sentenced by the trial judge to serve 16 years in prison. At the trial, an eyewitness to the incident gave evidence in support of the State’s case. During cross-examination, it was demonstrated that the eyewitness was untruthful in his testimony. In cross-examining the eyewitness, counsel suggested to him that it was he who had shot and killed the deceased, but this was stoutly denied by the eyewitness.

Access the full media release here: Media release 24 of 2023