There was an increase in the number of murder accused opting to plead guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter. And complainants in rape cases declined to testify or failed to appear to testify during the June session of the
Demerara Criminal Assizes.
According to the jail delivery done by Justice Simone Morris-Ramlall on September 29, last, a total of 167 cases were listed to be heard. Of those, 28 matters were disposed of. Eighteen cases received attention in the High Court of Demerara and ten matters were nolle prosequi by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
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.
Of the 18 matters 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 another for the offence of rape of a child under 16 years.
In five of these six murder trials, the accused all pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter and were respectively sentenced to twelve years, fifteen years, twenty years, eight years and eleven 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.
While 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 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 16 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 jurors 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 30 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 trial Judge to return a formal verdict of not guilty.
Meanwhile, Madame 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 jurors 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 10 matters were nolle prosequi by the DPP. Of these ten 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 16 years, rape, carnal knowledge of a girl under 15 years and sexual activity with a child family member.
In two of these ten matters, one for the offence of attempt to commit 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.
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