PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Mar 20, CMC – Two persons, including a 36-year-old woman, will return to court on April 18 after they were charged with murder and illegally disposing of the body of woman police officer Nyasha Joseph, whose body was fished out of the sea last week.
Melissa and Kenneth Browne, (not relatives) appeared before Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers Caesar in the Port of Spain Eighth Court on Monday, less than 24 hours after the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) had given police the go-ahead to charge them.
Kenneth Browne, 36, is charged with knowingly assisting in the murder of the police officer illegally disposing of a body, while Melissa Browne, 36, charged with murdering WPC Joseph sometime between March 8 and March 16, at Sea Lots, just on the outskirts of the capital. She was not required to plead as the charge was laid indictably.
The police woman had been reported missing on March 8, and her body was found by a fisherman in Gulf of Paria on March 16. The cause of her death could not be determined by the pathologist.
Police said that the accused are not married but have a relationship.
Meanwhile, defence attorney Criston J Williams told the court that he had written to the Commissioner of Police and the head of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) requesting an investigation into the conduct of the police officers during their probe.
He said the officers used unfair interrogation techniques and were disrespectful to the lawyers representing the accused.
Williams said that when he and other attorneys attempted to meet with the accused during the investigation, the officers resisted and claimed that one police officer placed his hands on Williams in an attempt to push him away.
Williams said his clients’ fundamental rights had been breached.
HAMILTON, Bermuda, Mar 15, CMC – A 25-year-old man has been sentenced to 35 years in jail after he was convicted of murdering a fellow Bermudian outside a popular sports club in 2015.
Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons said Shantoine Burrows showed “some premeditation” in committing the murder of Rickai Swan, 26, and displayed the “mind-set of a person intent on killing”.
She described video capturing the murder played during his trial as “chilling”.
Swan was gunned down outside the Southampton Rangers Sports Club — a team he grew up playing football for — in October 2015.
Burrows must serve a minimum sentence of 25 years for the murder and the judge said his 10-year sentence for use of a firearm in committing the murder does not start until after the 25 years.
Burrows was convicted last October of the fatal shooting of Swan, who was socialising with friends outside of the club. A jury found Burrows unanimously guilty of the charges last year and he was remanded in custody. He was also found guilty of injuring Damiko Gibbons.
Crown counsel Nicole Smith described the murder as a “public execution”, which displayed “no mitigating circumstances”.
She described Burrows as “not a man of good character”, devoid of respect for the law or remorse for his crime.
But in addressing the court, Burrows maintained his innocence.
“I still stand before you an innocent man,” he said, adding “justice wasn’t served.”
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Mar 15, CMC – A High Court judge will on May 16 rule whether or not the former chairman of CL Financial, Lawrence Duprey, can change his defence in a matter in which he is being sued for failing to pay loans totalling TT$5.1 million (One TT dollar =US$0.16 cents) to a former employee.
Justice Frank Seepersad has also given the attorney for Duprey until March 28 to file submissions in support of his client’s move to change his defence after initially accepting liability in the matter.
Former government minister and senior CL Financial executive, Carlos John, is suing Duprey alleging that he is owed the money which he loaned to his former boss.
CL Financial is the parent company of Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO) that received billions of dollars in a bail out by the Trinidad and Tobago government a few years ago.
On Tuesday, when the lawsuit came up for hearing before Justice Seepersad, Duprey’s lawyer Michael Coppin indicated that his client wanted to withdraw his initial position of having accepted liability but not quantum.
Coppin said his client’s defence is based on the statute of limitation, while Industrial Commercial Development (Trinidad) Limited – which John is also suing – has amended its defence on a breach of contract principle.
But the judge questioned whether Duprey can now withdraw his defence, saying he is not aware of any provision under the Civil Proceedings Rules to do so.
“It cannot be that the first defendant can just say, ‘Oops. I want to withdraw my defence’,” Justice Seepersad said, adding also that the “courts must jealously guard its processes against abuse of process.
“You have to convince me that that course of action is proper. This court is moving on as if there is an admittance of liability,” Justice Seepersad said, informing the attorneys for both men that they should be present in court when the matter next comes up for hearing.
In his lawsuit, John, said that in 2012, he provided Duprey, on various occasions, with the funds requested and that there was an oral agreement between them for Duprey to repay these loans. John also alleged that Duprey used ICDL as a shell company to avoid personal liability.
John said he lent Duprey TT$5,166,125 and used his property to secure the amounts and that he was expected to have been repaid in October 2013.
John said he has so far received just over half a million dollars between 2015 and 2016.
Duprey admitted that there was a series of agreements, over time, between himself and John for different sums of money but does not admit to owing his former employee the amount being claimed.
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Mar 14, CMC- A 15-year-old boy is due to re-appear in court on March 27 after he was charged with the murder of a retired member of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force during the Carnival celebrations.
The boy, appeared before Deputy Chief Magistrate Maria Busby Earle-Caddle in the Port of Spain Eighth Magistrate’s Court on Monday charged with killing 56-year-old Calvert James, who died on February 27, Carnival Monday, from multiple stab wounds.
The retired soldier was killed during an incident on the outskirts of the capital. The Director of Public Prosecution, Roger Gaspard SC, on March 11, gave instructions to charge the teenager with murder.
The teenager, who cannot be identified because of his age as he deemed a minor by law, has since been remanded to the St Michael’s Boys Rehabilitation Centre.
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Mar 10, CMC – President of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice CCJ), Sir Dennis Byron Friday dismissed suggestions that the results of the Grenada referendum represented more evidence that the regional court is not fit to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court.
Grenadians voted to reject not only the CCJ, but all the other initiatives that the Keith Mitchell government had placed before them in a referendum on November 24. Apart from the CCJ they also rejected a fixed date for general elections as well as term limits for the prime minister and the appointment of a leader of the opposition in Parliament.
Addressing the 9th Annual Caribbean Court of Justice International Law Moot Court for 2017, Sir Dennis said that he was disappointed unlike two years ago, when he was in a position to announce the accession of another Caribbean country to the Appellate Jurisdiction of the CCJ.
He told the audience that the number of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states having relinquished the Privy Council in favour of acceding to the CCJ remains at four, namely Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana.
Sir Dennis said that in the Grenada referendum one of the amendments proposed at that plebiscite was the replacement of the Privy Council by the CCJ.
“The final tally on that matter was 9,639 votes or 43.27 per cent for as against 12,635 votes or 56.73 per cent against. The naysayers interpreted this to be yet another rebuff to the CCJ, more “evidence” of the Court’s unfitness to replace the Privy Council.
“We in the Court do not quite see it that way. We interpret this as an incitement to work harder to make the Court more attractive to the Caribbean polity. We appreciate that there is a quantum of both misinformation and disinformation abroad about the Court.
“We understand that the most effective way to neutralise that is through continued good performance and ensuring that the news gets out about it. We understand that only by demonstrating what we are worth in a manner that is visible to the public – that we will woo a majority of support to our side.”
But he said the presence of the eight debating teams from the eligible ten CARICOM institutions, is tremendously heartening and a great source of encouragement for the Court.
“You are the testimony that there are still great things to come for the Caribbean Court of Justice, and by extension, the entire Caribbean region, of course,” he said, adding that since he assumed office one of the high points of his tenure has been the annual moot.
“It gladdens my heart to observe the enthusiasm, the maturity and the rigour with which our young law students have tackled the moot briefs. The good news is that however chancy the present circumstances of the CCJ may seem, the sheer energy and endeavour you invest into this annual exercise virtually guarantees brighter days ahead for the Court.
“It is my conviction that that is exactly what is furnished by your teams participating so wholly and positively in the annual moot. By dint of that very participation, through the verve and energy that characterise your youthful yet learned approach, you endow the Court with promise.”
The CCJ, established in 2001 to replace the Privy Council, also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC) that governs the regional integration movement. It has both an Original and Appellate Jurisdiction, with most of the CARICOM countries being signatories to the Original Jurisdiction.
Sir Dennis said that the CCJ is the “Keeper of the Seal of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy” that allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services across the 15-member grouping.
“A thorough and comprehensive knowledge of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas by the Caribbean legal fraternity is a sine qua non of the development and strengthening of the CSME. This annual moot provides young attorneys-at-law with a sterling opportunity to comprehend the ramifications and wherewithal of the RTC and paves the way for the widening of its scope and development.”
He said that the responsibilities of the CCJ with regard to the CSME are enormous. Recalling the writing of the former CCJ judge Justice Duke Pollard, that “the rights and obligations created by the CSME are so important and extensive, relating to the establishment of economic enterprises, the provision of professional services, the movement of capital, the acquisition of land for the operation of businesses, that there is a clear need to have a permanent, central, regional institution to authoritatively and definitively pronounce on those rights and corresponding obligations”.
Sir Dennis told the debaters that that their “delving into the inner workings of the RTC and thrashing out an Original Jurisdiction matter before this very CCJ does more than provide you with an opportunity to hone your adversarial skills.
“Through the very process of your investment and your praxis, the Court itself is imbued with a greater strengthening of its ethos, of its armour, of its structure and is better fortified assuring that leadership role,” he said, adding that “ by dint of your involvement in this exercise, you validate the Caribbean Court of Justice in its role in the van of the development of Caribbean jurisprudence.
“You lift us up. You demonstrate that the Caribbean region is no less creative, no less responsible, no less talented than any other. You make us all proud – that fact I commend to your hearts.”
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Mar 10, CMC – A pastor has been jailed for 20 years after he was found guilty of having sex with a minor two years ago.
Justice Lorna Shelly Williams Friday sentenced Pastor Reverend Paul Hanniford of the Pentecostal City Mission Church after he was found guilty by a seven-member jury on January 24.
Rape fear – alarm
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (OFPP) said the complainant, who is now 15 years old, testified in court that on March 12, 2015, she and her five-year-old brother went to the church for choir practice and after the rehearsal they asked the pastor for a ride.
But the Home Court was told that the child, who was a member of the Pentecostal City Mission Church and was baptised by Hanniford was taken to the pastor’s home in Kingston.
“The pastor gave the five-year-old some cornflakes to eat. The complainant requested the use of the bathroom and while there in the bathroom the pastor entered. The complainant was pushed by the pastor outside the bathroom onto a bed that was inside a nearby bedroom and sexually assaulted her,” the ODPP said in the statement.
The Court was told that the child managed to push the pastor off and went outside of the bedroom to meet her brother, who had heard her cries for help.
The statement said that the brother had climbed onto a chair and peeped through a hole in the door and observed Pastor Hanniford sexually assaulting his sister which made him feel “sad”.
According to the evidence presented to the court, after the incident the pastor gave them some cornflakes to eat and later warned the complainant not to tell anyone as it was their “secret”.
He took them back to the church where the mother of the children met them. The complainant’s brother made a report to his mother in the presence of the pastor about what he had seen.
The following day a meeting was convened at the church with the bishop, the pastor, the complainant, her brother and the children’s parents.
On April 14, 2015, a report was made to the police and the pastor was arrested. He was subsequently charged.
In his defence at the trial, the pastor denied having sexual intercourse with the complainant and said that he had given the children a drive out but not on the day in question.
ROSEAU, Dominica, Mar 3, CMC – One day after a High Court judge publicly criticised the Dominica police for not having a presence in the court, the acting Deputy Police Commissioner, Davidson Valarie, has apologised.
High Court Judge, Victoria Charles-Clarke had on Thursday summoned Police Commissioner Daniel Carbon to the court to state why police officers were absent from the sitting on Thursday morning.
“I find it disrespectful that not one officer is present and no superior officer is present to apologise “said Charles-Clarke, who added that court was not properly constituted and sent a strong message that she could cite the Police Chief and others of contempt.
In his apology, Valarie said “we regret what happened due to some miscommunication between the police and the court.
“It’s not a regular thing and we regret what happened and deeply apologize to Her Ladyship and the court.”
The judge in accepting the apology noted “we need to have better collaboration between the court and the police”.
The Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal (ECCA) accepted all the arguments that were put forward in presenting the appeal against the Montserrat Director of Public Prosecutions’ (DPP) desire to retry Cassell. The DPP argued generally that “the main consideration is whether in the interest of the community and the victim, a person who is convicted of a serious crime should be brought to justice and not escape merely because of technical shortcomings in the conduct of the trial or in the directions to the jury…”
The appeal court headed by acting President of Appeal Justice Louise Blenman refused DPP Oris Sullivan’s request and his bid to retry Attorney-at-Law Warren Cassell, who previously had his conviction squashed by the Privy Council. On Tuesday this week, Cassell was back in court in a bid to fend off this latest bid to have him retried by the Montserrat D.P.P.
Attorney at Law Warren Cassell
The Privy Council in its last ruling, quashing all the convictions, had indicated that any matter to do with a retrial was down to the ECCA. The matter then came back to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal who has ruled that it is not in the interest of justice to order a retrial.
The ECCA judges this time upheld the arguments of Cassell’s Attorney, Dr. David Dorsett arguments in their final decision.
Last July, Attorney Cassell, had multiple convictions quashed by the Privy Council. Nonetheless, the Privy Council (which is still the final appellate court for the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat) maintained that any issue for retrial should be resolved in the local courts. As a result, the ECCA invited written arguments from both parties on the issue.
The learned DPP argued that retrial was necessary to establish guilt or innocence of the charges. However, during his oral presentation, he was asked by Justice Louise Blenman for case law where a retrial was re-ordered in similar circumstances. Mr. Sullivan was unable to provide one.
In his written submissions, Cassell’s Attorney-at-Law Dr. David Dorsett argued that Cassell had served his two-year sentence in full and a retrial would serve no purpose since he cannot be sentenced for any time more than the sentence past in the first trial.
In delivering an oral unanimous ruling, Justice Mario Michel noted that there were several factors that the court ought to consider in deciding whether to order a retrial including:
Seriousness of offence
Nature of offence
Strength of evidence against the appellant
Publicity which the trial had obtained and whether it would operate to prejudice the appellant; and
Interest of justice.
Justice Michel further reasoned that Cassell had already served his full sentence and that the DPP has failed to provide any case law where a person who served all of his sentence and was still retried. In conclusion, Justice Michel stated that: “we are of the view that the interest of justice would not be served by ordering a retrial.”
The Court sought from Sullivan arguments to support his request for a retrial against Dr. Dorsett’s arguments that had been laid prior before them along with those of the DPP.
One argument that Attorney Dorsett, whom the Court told that it was not necessary to address after hearing from the DPP, was “The court did not order a retrial but indicated that the Prosecution was at liberty to do so.,” noting that no re-trial was ever pursued.
He also argued: “…it cannot be maintained that the offences for which the Appellants have been convicted (i.e Conspiracy to defraud and Procuring the Execution of a Valuable Security by Deception), fall into the category of being “serious”.
“While the Appellants are in no way trivializing the said offences an examination of the cases reveal that the courts consider offences such as Murder, Manslaughter, Robbery and Drug Trafficking as serious crimes – offences for which the sentences vary from 20 years to life imprisonment.”
That ends a chapter of Cassell’s life that he says will be very interesting when recaptured in a book. Cassell is the author of several books already, and is the editor at WestIndianLawyers.com.
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Mar 1, CMC – Former prime minister Sir James Mitchell is urging the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) to end its legal challenge of the 2015 general elections.
The NDP lost the polls by an 8-7 margin and Sir James, who founded the party in 1975, said the challenge to the results is one of the points of contention between him and the party.
“In my book, as I have said before and I will say it again: elections are won on election night,” Sir James said on a radio programme here on Tuesday.
“Name me the time that elections were won in the court. It doesn’t happen,” said Sir James, who in 2010 said that he does not trust even Jesus Christ with an election until the results are announced.
Sir James led the NDP shortly after its founding in 1975 until October 2000, five months before elections in March 2001, which the party lost.
The NDP is challenging the results of the election in Central Leeward and North Windward and the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal is expected to sit in St. Lucia next Tuesday to hear the appeal of the decision of the High Court here to throw out the election petitions as improperly filed.
The ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves won a fourth consecutive term in office by winning eight of the 15 seats in the December 2015 poll, the same results of 2010.
Sir James told radio listeners that he has he has been an international observer of elections and that he understands that in the election in Central Leeward, the NDP agents signed on to the results in the various polling stations.
“The second day, there was a final count and the duly authorised agent or the candidate himself signed on with the final count,” he said, adding that to overturn an election in the court, evidence is required to the extent that that evidence would have affected the results.
“Because, number one, the privacy of the ballot has to remain intact, otherwise the democratic processes collapse. And who in St. Vincent, as an agent, would go before the court, facing a battery of lawyers, swear by Almighty God that you will speak the whole truth and then give evidence of election fraud, knowing that if you don’t come right and lying to the court is jail for you? — Not for the candidate.
“Why should a party want to put its agents in that peril when it had already signed on to the results,” Sir James said, even as he acknowledged that he had no idea how the Appeal Court will rule.
“But one thing I know, the courts can’t say is that ULP lost the seat and when you are finished an election, in my book, number one, you have to concede defeat.”
He said that even in sports the losing player or team congratulates each other, expect in boxing — because the loser is “down on the ground and he can’t move”.
He said leader must also take responsibility for the defeat.
Sir James aid that when he was speaking at the last convention before elections in St. Lucia, he called on Allen Chastanet, leader of the then opposition United Workers Party (UWP) to announce publicly that if he led the party to defeat he would offer to resign the same night.
The UWP won and Chastanet is now Prime Minister of St. Lucia.
Sir James noted that his successor, Member of Parliament for East Kingstown, Arnhim Eustace — who has since exited the leadership of the NDP — lost four elections.
“Did he concede defeat every time? Did he offer to resign every time? Look at the traditions of politics. You see, my problem with a lot of people, I am at heart a democrat and I want the democratic process to thrive in this country.
“I don’t mind people having success, because I know how to defeat them,” said Sir James, who campaigned with the NDP in 2001, 2005 and 2010, when it also lost.
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Feb 24, CMC – A Trinidad-born gay rights activist has filed a lawsuit challenging Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act, which criminalises buggery and serious indecency even between consenting adults in Trinidad and Tobago.
In his lawsuit filed in the High Court on Thursday, Jason Jones claims that the “very existence of these sections continuously and directly affects the claimant’s private life by forcing him to either respect the law and refrain from engaging – even in private with consenting male partners – in prohibited sexual acts to which he is disposed by reason of his homosexual orientation, or to commit the prohibited acts and thereby become liable to criminal prosecution”.
The United Kingdom-based Jones is also claiming that the legislation contravenes his constitutional rights to privacy and freedom of thought and expression in addition to being in direct contradiction to this country’s international human rights obligation.
He is also contending that the legislation opens him up to public prejudice and ridicule as it labels him and other homosexuals as criminals.
“He is accordingly the subject of extensive societal prejudice, persecution, marginalisation, a lifelong entrenched stigma that he is an unapprehended criminal by virtue of being homosexual and he experiences the lifelong fear of being punished for expressing his sexuality through consensual conduct with another adult,” the lawsuit notes.
Jones is seeking to side step the “saving clause” feature of the Constitution which precludes a court from striking down and reviewing legislation which were in existence when the Constitution was drafted and that have been marginally changed since.
The lawsuit claims that the legislation amended in 1986 and 2000 repealed and replaced pre-Independence sexual offences legislation, covered by the savings clause, and thus is open to review. A date for the hearing of the constitutional motion lawsuit is yet to be set.
Jones told reporters that he took the decision to file the lawsuit due to his personal experience as a homosexual in Trinidad and Tobago including him being disowned by his family forcing him to migrate to the United Kingdom.
“I don’t wish to shove a gay agenda down you (the public) throat or attack your morals, religion or spirituality, I am doing this for the betterment of our nation, and for our feature generations,” Jones said.
Jones said in Trinidad and Tobago, members of the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender (LGBT) community face high levels of discrimination and for this to change, the law must be changed.
He added that the laws were originally British colonial laws, but Britain had removed the laws and is this year celebrating 50 years since de-criminalising homosexuality.