Andre Hetsberger, whose rape conviction and 25-year sentence was overturned by the Court of Appeal, was on Friday, August 9 granted bail to the tune of $200,000 pending appeal, by Justice Jo-Ann Barlow, at the High Court in Demerara.
Despite being able to afford the sum, Hetsberger still remains in jail due to what was described by his lawyer Dexter Todd as an “administrative glitch”.
Back in 2016, Hetsberger, a former television cameraman, was found unanimously guilty by a jury of raping a 13-year-old girl on October 17. 2014. Following his conviction and sentence, he filed an appeal contending that the verdict was unreasonable and cannot be support with regard to the evidence cited at his trial before Justice Navindra Singh.
On July 24, the Court of Appeal overturned the conviction and sentence, and ordered that Hetsberger be retried for the offence at the next sitting of the Demerara Assizes which begins in October. Hetsberger’s lawyer had applied for bail then, but was advised by the Court of Appeal to make a formal application before the High Court.
His lawyer did exactly that. However, when his family turned up to the pay the bail, it was discovered that Hetsberger had another sexual offence allegation pending in the court system. In that regard, the bail could not have been posted until things were rectified. That allegation has to do with an act committed on the same 13-year-old girl.
Hetsberger’s lawyer explained that his client was initially charged with two sex-related offences in the Magistrate’s Court. According to Todd, his client was committed to stand trial at the High Court for both offences after the Magistrate found that there was prima facie evidence. However, Todd pointed out that one of the charges was bad in law and should have been withdrawn, since there was no evidence to substantiate it.
Furthermore, Todd said that the Magistrate erred in law in committing his client to stand trial on such a charge. That aside, Todd said that the following week after the judge granted his client bail, he wrote a letter to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) indicating the situation at hand.
Todd said that while his client remains incarcerated, he is still awaiting a reply from the DPP in relation to making a formal withdrawal of the charge from the court records, before the bail amount can be posted and an order sent to the prison for his release.
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