Saturday, November 17, 2012

Smiley Culture’s family welcome decision to drop drug charge

FRESH QUESTIONS: Merlin Emmanuel (centre) is joined by campaigners on a March for Justice last year

SMILEY CULTURE’S nephew Merlin Emmanuel has welcomed news that a court has thrown out a drug smuggling case against the late reggae singer.

A judge at Croydon Crown Court in Surrey dismissed the case earlier this month.

Emmanuel told The Voice: “He was not an angel. I can say that without a doubt but certainly to summarise Smiley as nothing other than some petty drug dealer is highly offensive and untrue.”

The singer, whose real name was David Emmanuel, died under controversial circumstances during a police raid at his home on March 15 last year.

The Met police said officers had gone to Smiley’s home to arrest him on suspicion of drug smuggling. But they claimed he went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea and then stabbed himself in the chest with a kitchen knife.

Smiley’s family members have long rejected claims the Cockney Translation icon killed himself, as well as claims he was a drug dealer.

Emmanuel said fresh questions need to be raised over the circumstances under which the singer died, now that the case has been dismissed.

“The question is now, if he wasn’t doing what they said he was, why would he act in that erratic, crazy, psyched out way and take his life when 15 minutes before he was fine and he had nothing to worry about?” Emmanuel asked.

Three other defendants were also facing charges of conspiracy to smuggle drugs from Barbados to the UK, which were linked to the case.

However, a court spokesperson told The Voice the judge ended the case and released the remaining three defendants when “the prosecution offered no evidence”.

Emmanuel claimed that the family has been left “fatigued” and “traumatised” by what happened. He said: “The whole family was on hold. All Smiley’s funds and income have been held which is obviously funds for the children to live on from the hard work he’d done. All of these were held back on a whim.”

The outspoken nephew said the family is considering suing newspapers that wrongly claimed the reggae singer was a drug dealer.

Emmanuel said: “We can’t bring Smiley back but what we are trying to do is to protect his legacy. Those tabloids that actually smeared Smiley without saying allegedly, we will be visiting them soon because they will answer for that. It was disgusting journalism by a big pack of papers (and) that was just basically reported before we were informed by the police.”

He continued: “We are going to look for justice because they have to right the wrongs. They told untruths and they need to be penalised for that. It’s not for financial gain. It’s for Smiley and the other people who have been besmirched by their poor journalism. Their names and their rep (reputation).”

He revealed that the family were considering taking legal action against the police once the upcoming coroner’s trial by jury is held.

“We’ll wait until the coroner’s trial by jury and then we’ll see where we stand” he said. “We’ll have a better overview as to what our options are at that point.”

Emmanuel said he plans to continue Smiley’s positive legacy through the recent creation of the S.O.U.L (Sounds of Urban London) radio and television companies.

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