A third prisoner due for early release on Monday amid tears of joy for two others
A third convict will make an early exit from Dodds Prisons on Monday, after two others walked free this morning ahead of time. Well placed prison sources have told Barbados TODAY that Arleigh Hector James, who had been sentenced to be confined to jail at Her Majesty’s pleasure for chopping to death his wife Deborah James in May 1994, will be released after more than 20 years behind bars.
When contacted, one of James’ attorneys, Desmond Sands, informed this newspaper that he and his associate Tarick Khan had made several submissions to Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson, following a recent ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice, determining that sentences such as at Her Majesty’s pleasure were unconstitutional and a person must be given a definitive sentence.
Sands said he was due to return before the Chief Justice to hear the court’s determination on their submissions. But while he would not be tied down to a date, Barbados TODAY has been reliably informed that the court hearing is the same day James will be released from Dodds.
James is among several other long-serving convicts who are eligible to be released or who must be given a definite time to spend in prison.
He was convicted on July 25, 1996 and sentenced to death, but on January 27, the following year, the Court of Appeal of Barbados dismissed his appeal against his conviction. However, On July 22, 1997, James was granted special leave to appeal to the British Privy Council. That tribunal advised that the appeal ought to be allowed, the verdict of guilty of murder quashed and the sentence of death set aside. The Privy Council which was then this country’s final court of appeal, also recommended that the conviction of murder be reduced to manslaughter and that the matter be sent back to the local Appeals Court to determine sentencing.
Evidence in that case revealed that after James found out that his wife appeared to have been leaving him for a pastor, he took a cutlass from his shed and launched what the court heard was a frenzied attack on her, as she was packing some of her clothes to drive off in a van with the pastor.
The development in his case comes as family members of two other convicted prisoners are breathing a sigh of relief.
Earlier today, tears flowed freely and cries of “Oh, God, I thought I would never live to see this day” filled the air, as former rape and robbery convicts Orlando Lorde and Peter Forde strolled out of Dodds Prisons in St Philip –– three years ahead of time –– and into the waiting embrace of their mothers and other family members.
As an overwhelmed Naomi Lorde –– mother of Orlando –– and his daughter Tiana Branch squeezed him in their arms, Ms Lorde, not being able to hold back her feelings, cried: “Thank you, Lord, thank you for giving him back . . . thank you.”
Surrounded by his lawyers, Queen’s Counsel Dr Erskine Hinds and Grace McKaskie, the lanky, smiling Lorde, when asked how he felt declared: “I feel great. Glad for the opportunity to be with my family again.”
The first thing he wanted to do was to be reunited with his family.
“Reunite with my family and my daughter here [by his side] and move forward,” the ex-con beamed. He also thought that his freedom, which coincided with his daughter’s birthday on Friday, was a great birthday present. His daughter said she was ecstatic at reconnecting with her father.
Peter Forde, the other ex-convict, who was greeted by one of his lawyers, Safiya Moore, as he walked to freedom, got a slightly delayed welcome from a camera-shy mother. While his mother declined any interviews, a delighted Peter asked rhetorically: “You don’t want everybody know you have a handsome son?” However, he gave brief comments to waiting reporters.
“I’m elated. I’m really grateful for this opportunity and I will go forward and do my best,” he asserted.
And what’s his first priority?
“Reconnect with my family. Dah’s it . . . . I want to reconnect with my family. I want to take this opportunity to do my best and I want to thank everyone who supported me and backed me and I will not let down anyone.”
Both former inmates had originally been sentenced to 30 years in 1999 for the rape and robbery of a minibus conductress back in 1995, but on appeal, that was reduced to 25 years.
It is understood that a third inmate, Robin Howell, who had been jointly charged and convicted with Lorde and Forde, could soon be released as well.
Please also see Pages 10 & 11 in the 26/06/2014 digital ePaper edition – http://epaper.barbadostoday.bb.