Twenty-eight matters were disposed of in the last session of the Demerara Criminal Assizes. The Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions, (DPP) reported that the session officially ended with Justice Roxanne George dispensing the jail delivery, yesterday.
According to the information by Justice George, there were 141 cases listed for trial in the Demerara Criminal Assizes October 2016. Of those cases, 26 were disposed of. Fifteen cases received attention in the High Court of Demerara and 13 others were nolle prosequi by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) based on statements from the Virtual Complainants (VC).
Of the 15 cases, 11 were for Murder, one for the offence of Carnal Knowledge of a Girl Under 12 Years, another one for the offence of Rape, one other for Sexual Activity with A Child By Abusing A Position of Trust and one for the offence of Attempt to Commit Murder.
Justice Roxanne George, Justice James Bovell-Drakes and Justice Jo-Ann Barlow presided over the October Criminal Assizes. There were five not guilty verdicts by jury, one hung jury, four formal verdicts of not guilty, three guilty pleas and two guilty jury verdicts.
During the session Justice Barlow completed six matters. Of these six cases, four were for the offence of Murder, one for the offence of Rape and one other for the offence of Sexual Activity with A Child By Abusing A Position of Trust.
In three of the four murder cases, the accused were all acquitted by jury verdicts of not guilty.
In the other murder case, the State offered no evidence after the witnesses did not testify in accordance with their depositions. Justice Barlow therefore directed the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty.
In one matter for the offence of Rape, the VC testified in Court that she did not wish to proceed with the matter and the Trial Judge directed the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty.
The accused in the one case for the offence of Sexual Activity with A Child by abusing a Position of Trust was acquitted by a majority jury verdict of eleven not guilty to one guilty.
Justice George completed three murder cases. In one matter, the jury failed to reach a verdict and the accused was ordered to await a new trial. In another matter, the trial Judge upheld a no case submission and directed the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty.
In the one other matter in which the accused was indicted on eight counts of Murder, he pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of Manslaughter on all the counts. He was sentenced to 45 years imprisonment on each count. The sentences will run concurrently and the prisoner must serve 40 calendar years before being considered for parole.
This was in relation to the trial in the Bartica Massacre. There were five accused, two of whom pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of Manslaughter. The second was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment on each of the 12 counts. The trial is continuing in relation to the other three accused and still continues.
Of the 13 matters nolle prosequi by the DPP, four were for the offence of Attempt to Commit Murder, five for Rape, two were for Incest, one for Setting Fire To a Dwelling House and one for the offence of Carnal Knowledge of A Girl Under 15 Years.
In four of these matters, the virtual complainants did not appear in Court even though their names were published in the media for them to appear. In one other matter the VC has migrated. And in four other cases the virtual complainants indicated in writing that they did not wish to proceed with their matters. Four others could not be located.
Six cases were presented before Justice Bovell-Drakes. Of these six, one was for the offence of Carnal Knowledge of A Girl under 12 Years, four matters were for the offence of Murder and one other for Attempt to Commit Murder.
In the one matter for the offence of Carnal Knowledge of A Girl under 12 Years a formal verdict of not guilty was delivered by the jury upon the direction of the trial judge after the virtual complainant went into the witness box and testified that she did not wish to offer any evidence.
In one of the four Murder cases, the accused pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of Manslaughter and was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. In one other matter, the accused was acquitted by the jury.
In another Murder case the accused was indicted on two counts of Murder with alternative counts of Attempt to Commit Murder. He pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of Manslaughter and was sentenced to 28 years imprisonment.
He also pleaded guilty to the second count of Attempt to Commit Murder and was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. The prisoner will serve the sentences concurrently.
The accused in the fourth Murder trial was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment after the jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict.
In the one case for the offence of Attempt to Commit Murder, the accused was sentenced to 22 years imprisonment after the jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty.
The January 2017 Criminal Assizes for Demerara will open today. There are 140 cases listed to be heard during the session. Justice Navindra Singh and Justice Jo-ann Barlow have been roistered to sit during this assizes.
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