Sexual offence cases made up 11 of the 23 cases that were presented during the Demerara April 2018 Criminal Assizes, which came to an end on Friday. However, only four of the accused were convicted. They have been given lengthy sentences, including life imprisonment in one case.
The 11 sexual offences were presented by State Counsel Narissa Leander, Tiffiny Lyken and Abigail Gibbs before Madam Justice Barlow in the Sexual Offences Court.
In four of these cases, the accused were found guilty by jury verdicts and sentenced respectively to 52 years imprisonment, life imprisonment, 25 years and seven years imprisonment.
In another three cases, the virtual complainants testified before judge and jury that they did not wish to proceed with their matters.
Justice Barlow then directed the juries to return formal verdicts of not guilty.
Of the remaining four cases, one accused was remanded back to prison to await a new trial after his jury failed to reach a verdict. The accused in the three other cases were acquitted by their respective jury.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) nolle prosequi 13 other sexual offence cases, after the virtual complainants indicated that they did not wish to give evidence.
Of the remaining cases presented, 10 were for the offence of murder and two were for attempted murder.
MURDER AND MANSLAUGHTER
Ten matters, including eight for murder and two for manslaughter, were presented before Justice Sandil Kissoon. The eight were prosecuted by State Counsel Mandel Moore and Lisa Cave.
In five of the cases of murder, the accused persons pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter.
Three of the accused were each sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, while the other two were respectively sentenced to 14 years and 22 years imprisonment.
Of the three other cases, one accused was sentenced to 33 years imprisonment after the jury unanimously found him guilty of the lesser offence of manslaughter. Another accused was acquitted by a jury. In the one remaining case, the jury failed to reach a verdict. This hung jury resulted in the indictment being nolle prosequi by the DPP because the accused had hung jury verdicts, in April 2014, December 2015 and May 2018.
The other two cases presented before Justice Kissoon were for the offence of attempted murder. In one case presented by State Counsel Lisa Cave and Shawnette Austin, eight jurors voted for a not guilty verdict while the remaining four voted for guilty.
State Counsel Lisa Cave and Orinthia Schmidt presented the other case, which ended in a hung jury, with nine guilty and three not guilty.
Two cases for the offence of Murder were presented before Justice James Bovell-Drakes. One of these cases was presented by State Counsel Seeta Bishundial and Shawnette Austin.
The accused in this trial was sentenced to 22 years imprisonment after the jury returned a majority verdict of guilty for the lesser offence of manslaughter.
The other case which was prosecuted by State Counsel Mandel Moore and Seeta Bishundial ended in a hung jury.
The Demerara April Assizes had commenced on Tuesday 3rd April, 2018. A total of 242 cases were listed to be heard, but only 37 matters were disposed of.
Meanwhile, Berbice February Criminal Assizes commenced on Tuesday 6th February, 2018, before Justice Brassington Reynolds, who sat from the month of April. Ninety six cases were listed to be heard.
Five have been presented by State Counsel Tuanna Hardy. They include one for causing death by dangerous driving, two for the rape and another two for manslaughter.
The accused in the matter of Causing Death By Dangerous Driving was indicted on 12 counts. He was found guilty by a majority jury verdict and sentenced to nine years on each of the 12 counts. The total sentence of 108 years will run concurrently.
In one of the two rape cases, the accused was acquitted by the jury. The other accused was found guilty and will be sentenced on Monday, June 11.
The two other matters presented were for the offence of manslaughter. In one case the accused was acquitted by a unanimous not guilty verdict. The accused in the other trial was found guilty and will be sentenced on Monday, June 11.
The DPP nolle prosequi three matters, one for the offence of rape of a child under 16 and two others for attempt to Commit Murder.
The complainants in these matters indicated in writing they did not wish to proceed with their matters. The Berbice February Session will conclude on June 18, 2018
Meanwhile, the Essequibo May Criminal Assizes commenced on Tuesday 15th May, 2018 before Madam Justice Margaret Kurtzious. Sixty cases are listed to be heard.
State Counsel Tamika Clarke has presented one case in which three accused have been indicted for the offence of murder. This trial is in progress.
The DPP nolle prosequi four matters for sexual offences. In three of these cases the accused have died while the complainant in the other one case has also died.
The Essequibo Assizes continues.
DEMERARA JUNE CRIMINAL ASSIZES COMMENCE
The Demerara June Criminal Assizes commenced on Tuesday 5th June, 2018 with Madam Justice Jo-Ann Barlow, Justice Sandil Kissoon and Justice James Bovell-Drakes. 223 cases have been listed to be heard.
During the months January to May, the office of the DPP appeared in 22 cases in the Guyana Court of Appeal.
The State was represented by Assistant DPP Teshana Lake, Assistant DPP Diana O’Brien, Assistant DPP Dionne McCammon, Senior State Counsel Stacy Goodings, Senior State Counsel Natasha Backer, State Counsel Shawnette Austin and State Counsel Seeta Bishundial.
Of these 22 matters, three Appellants were allowed their appeals and had their convictions and sentences set aside and the charge for murder was substituted with the lesser offence of manslaughter. Two had their sentences varied to 20 years each while the other one had 12 years imprisonment imposed.
Four other appellants had their appeals allowed in part to appeal against their sentences which varied from 25 years to 18 years, 31 years to 24 years, 24 to 22 years and four years to one year imprisonment.
Four other appellants had their Applications to Appeal against conviction and sentences dismissed.
One other appellant had his appeal against his sentence for Causing Death by Dangerous Driving dismissed; however based on the aggravating factors, the Court of Appeal substituted the sentence with a $300,000 fine.
There were six applications for bail pending appeal; of these six, three applications were granted while the other three were denied.
One matter was struck out because the Court of Appeal ruled it was a matter for the full Court. Two matters were withdrawn.
Meanwhile, in one other matter the Court did not convene because the convict who was sentenced to 76 years imprisonment for the offence of murder and had appealed against his conviction, committed suicide by hanging.
Counsel for the respondent and appellant were informed of this by the Registrar of the Court.
The Demerara Full Court sat 11 times during the months February to May.
Deputy DPP Sonia Joseph, Senior State Counsel Stacy Goodings, Senior State Counsel Natasha Backer, Assistant DPP Dionne McCammon, State Counsel Shawnette Austin and State Counsel Orinthia Schmidt appeared in matters for the offences of Causing Death By Death Driving, Possession of Narcotics for the Purpose of Trafficking, Driving A Motor Vehicle under the Influence of Alcohol, Disorderly Behaviour and Driving A Motor Vehicle under the Influence of Alcohol, Assault Causing Actual Bodily Harm and Felonious Wounding.
The Full Court granted five Applications to appeal against convictions and sentences. Four other appellants had their Applications to Appeal dismissed while two Applications to Appeal were withdrawn.
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