Witnesses in robbery case lied, defence says

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Rosie Gillingham
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Crown says evidence points to Ray Noftall’s guilt

Ray Noftall sits in the prisoner’s dock, while his lawyer Jason Edwards reviews his notes, prior to the start of proceedings in Noftall’s trial at Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s Thursday. — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

Ray Noftall’s lawyer gave the judge a lot to chew on Thursday when he suggested there was no “smoking gum” in the case.

Jason Edwards used the phrase during his closing arguments, in which he referred to a piece of gum that Noftall reportedly spit out in a home after he robbed a man with a gun. Edwards was also alluding to the fact that witnesses couldn’t identify the gun Noftall is alleged to have used.

“(The complainant) doesn’t only invent the story, he pads the story and he has props,” Edwards said in Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s.

Noftall faces charges of armed robbery, possessing a weapon dangerous to the public, pointing a firearm, using a firearm in the commission of an offence and uttering threats.

The charges stem from an incident that was said to have happened March 12, 2012, at a home in Cowan Heights.

Homeowner Bill Welsh testified last week during the trial that Noftall came into his house, pointed a gun at him and demanded he give him $40 for taxi fare.

Noftall had been the subject of a police manhunt for days after the incident. Ten days later, police picked him up at a hotel in Whitbourne, where a BB gun was discovered in his car.

Welsh said that during the incident, Noftall spit out a piece of gum, which Welsh later picked up.

However, Edwards pointed out that neither the gum nor the gun can point to Noftall’s guilt, since the gum was never tested for DNA and the gun couldn’t be positively identified by the witnesses.

He said Welsh can’t be believed.

“The idea that a person would come into a house and rob somebody for taxi fare is ridiculous,” Edwards said.

He said his theatrical testimony  appeared to be an act.

Welsh’s estranged wife, Josephine Welsh, also took the stand last week.

Edwards called her “a liar.”

The woman, who lives in the basement apartment of the house, testified that Noftall first came to her apartment.

He knocked on the door and she let him in. She said she has known Noftall for 25 years. His girlfriend also worked as her home care attendant.

Welsh, who has several medical conditions, asked Noftall if he had anything for pain. She said Noftall said he did and took out a gun. She said she got back in bed and covered up her head.

She said Noftall asked where Bill was and went upstairs.

Edwards said the woman has given three different versions of what happened since then. He said she also lied about her having a criminal record and was evasive when questioned on the stand.

“She’s not reliable or credible,” Edwards said.

However, Crown prosecutor Lynn Moore said the witnesses were straight-forward and their evidence was compelling.

She said it’s not surprising that Bill Welsh couldn’t give a detailed description of the gun during such a stressful situation.

“It’s very understandable that he would be making eye contact with the holder of the gun,” Moore said.

As for his wife, Moore said that the woman’s frantic 911 call indicates that Noftall was in the house with a gun and that it corroborates what her husband had said was going on.

“There’s hysteria in her voice,” Moore said of the woman’s 911 call.

Moore also said, “Just because a witness is unsavoury doesn’t mean their evidence has to be discounted.”

Moore said to suggest the couple made up such an elaborate story was “preposterous.”

Justice Donald Burrage will render his decision Feb. 14.

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyCourt

Geographic location: Whitbourne

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