City Magistrate Annette Singh yesterday said that since Samuel Hinds Jr., son of the country’s Prime Minister, has previously been found guilty, a retrial will be to overturn or appeal the guilty verdict, which she has no authority to do.
Singh, in an address to an open court, expressed readiness to go ahead and sentence the 33-year-old on the wounding charge. However, a date for sentencing has not yet been fixed.
As the matter was called again yesterday at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court, recently appointed Magistrate Singh said that Hinds had already been found guilty in relation to the wounding charge and to restart the trial will be to overturn or appeal the guilty verdict.
This, the Magistrate said, is something she has no jurisdiction to do. “So my opinion is to go ahead and sentence the defendant,” the open court heard.
As a result, on April 8, when Hinds is expected to appear in court again, the Prosecution is expected to make submissions while the defence is expected to respond.
The matter was being heard by Former Magistrate Geeta Chandan-Edmond who returned the guilty verdict on February 6, last.
Hinds, a 33-year-old miner, was charged in relation to an altercation he had with his teenaged sister-in-law in February last year.
Reports are that Hinds, who had accused his then 18-year-old sister-in-law, Tenza Lane of stealing one of his cellular phones, flew in a fit and, brandished a gun, thrashed and threatened to kill her at his Lot 83 Duke Street, Kingston residence on February 27, 2014.
Following the incident, an unlawful wounding charge was instituted against Hinds. His case is being prosecuted by Police Corporal, Renetta Bentham.
When Chandan-Edmond ruled last month she had recapped that during the trial, the teenage girl and Police Constable Garraway were called to testify on behalf of the Prosecution. The Magistrate had said that as Hinds led his defence, he had elected to give sworn evidence and called two witnesses, his fiancée Sonia Herbert and the teen’s grandmother, Pamela Knight.
The evidence, she said, was reviewed bearing in mind the standard of proof required. The Magistrate said that as the witnesses gave their evidence, she had the opportunity to observe them and found the teen to be honest when accounting the abusive assault she suffered.
Magistrate Chandan-Edmond told the Court that she had addressed and fully considered the statement of Hinds and his two witnesses, but found that she “did not accept their account of what transpired.”
“I find beyond reasonable doubt that I feel sure that as a result of the defendant’s actions, the victim was wounded,” the Magistrate had remarked. The court, she said, had also considered the content of the medical certificate issued to the teen after the attack.
Hinds was found guilty as charged.
But the day Chandan-Edmond was expected to sentence Hinds with the aid of a probation report, the Probation officer did not show and later the former Magistrate received marching orders from the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
Since then her matters were heard by Singh. Though recently reinstated Magistrate Alex Moore has taken up the mantle in her court, the matter remained with Singh.
Until yesterday, no clear indication had been given on how the closely watched matter will be dealt with. Both Hinds and his teenaged sister-in-law were in attendance yesterday.
The matter is currently engaging the attention of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). She is reportedly expected to advise the Prosecution on the way forward with the matter.
Since, Chandan-Edmond had not handed down the sentence, the JSC had justified that another Magistrate can hand down her sentence. But Chandan-Edmond’s decision was pending a probation report which she never had an opportunity to hear.
Some legal minds familiar with the case had opined that the matter will be subject to retrial while others expressed concern over the direction the matter will take, since no offender can be found guilty twice of any offence.
In some countries, a defendant may enter a peremptory plea of autrefois convict, meaning the defendant has been convicted of the same offense and hence they cannot be retried under the principle of double jeopardy.
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