GOAL delivery was done by Madam Justice Simone Morris-Ramlall on Friday, September 29, bringing to an end the Demerara June 2017 Criminal Assizes.
This Assizes commenced with Justice Navindra Singh, Justice Nareshwar Harnanan and Justice James Bovell-Drakes.
Madam Justice Simone Morris-Ramlall then sat from August and continued until September bringing the Assizes to an end.
During the Assizes which commenced on Tuesday, June, 2017, a total of 167 cases were listed to be heard. Of these 67 cases, 28 matters were disposed of.
Eighteen cases received attention in the High Court of Demerara and 10 matters were nolle prosequi by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Of these 18 matters that were presented, there were eight guilty pleas, one guilty verdict by jury, four verdicts of not guilty and five formal verdicts of not guilty.
During the session Justice Navindra Singh completed eight cases. Of these eight cases, six were for the offence of murder, one for manslaughter and one other for the offence of rape of a child under 15 years.
In five of these six murder trials, the accused all pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter and were respectively sentenced to 12 years, 15 years, 20 years, eight years and 11 years imprisonment.
In the one other murder case, the accused was sentenced to 60 years’ imprisonment after the jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict. The accused in the one matter for the offence of manslaughter pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment. The accused in the one other matter for the offence of rape of a child under 16 years was acquitted by the jury. Justice Nareshwar Harnanan disposed of five matters.
Three of these five cases were for the offence of murder, one for the offence of Sexual Activity with a Child Family Member and another one for the offence of Rape of a Child under l6 years. In two of the three cases for the offence of murder, the trial judge upheld no case submissions by the defence and directed the juries to return formal verdicts of not guilty.
While in the other one case the accused pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter and was sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after serving thirty years.
In the two separate matters for the offences of Sexual Activity with a Child Family Member and Rape of a Child under 16 years, both complainants went into the witness box and informed the court that they did not wish to proceed with their matters. Justice Harnanan then directed the juries to return formal verdicts of not guilty.
Justice Bovell-Drakes who had also sat during the months February to June in another jurisdiction, completed one matter for the offence of murder in which a no case submission was upheld. The jury was directed by the Trial Judge to return a formal verdict of not guilty. Meanwhile, Madam Justice Simone Morris-Ramlall completed four cases. Two of these four cases were for the offence of Rape of a Child under 16 years and the other two were for the offence of rape.
In the two matters for the offence of Rape of a Child under 16 Years, the juries returned majority verdicts of not guilty. While in one of the two rape matters, the accused was acquitted after the jury returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty.
In the other matter the accused pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment. During this period ten matters were nolle prosequi by the DPP.
Of these 10 matters one was for the offence of Attempt to Commit Murder, while the other nine matters were for the sexual offences of Rape of a Child under 1-6 years, Rape, Carnal Knowledge of Girl under 1-5 Years and Sexual Activity with A Child Family Member. In two of these ten matters, one for the offence of attempt murder and the other for the offence of rape, the accused have since died.
In three other matters, the complainants indicated in written statements they did not wish to proceed with their matters and in the other five matters, the complainants could not be located despite police searches at their last known addresses and notices were published and aired for them to attend Court.
At the same time the Berbice Criminal Assizes commenced on Tuesday, June 20, 2017 with 94 cases listed to be heard. Two matters have been presented before James Bovell-Drakes. Of these two matters, one for the offence of murder was completed. The accused in this matter pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter and was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment. The other matter continues.
Meanwhile, the Essequibo May Criminal Assizes commenced on Tuesday, May 6, 2017 with 37 cases listed to be heard before Justice Brassington Reynolds. Of these, four were completed during the months May to September.
Meanwhile, the Demerara October 2017 Criminal Assizes will commence on Tuesday October 3, 2017. Justice James Bovell-Drakes, Justice Brassington Reynolds and Madam Justice Simone Morris-Ramlall will sit during this Assizes.
Madam Justice Jo-Ann Barlow will be sitting in the Berbice Assizes from October and close the June Assizes then open the October Criminal Assizes on Tuesday 17 October, 2017.
Madam Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry will sit in the Essequibo Criminal Assizes from the month of October and will close the May Assizes and open the October Assizes on Tuesday 24 October, 2017.