Condemned men freed

The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Tuesday quashed the convictions of the two Barbadian men, who were sentenced to death for the 2006 murder of Damien Alleyne.

The CCJ, which is Barbados’ highest court, ruled that Vincent Edwards and Richard Haynes’ convictions could not be upheld due to the presentation of insufficient evidence by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The only evidence linking the appellants to the murder was their alleged oral confessions made in separate interviews with officers of the Royal Barbados Police Force while at the Glebe Police Station on July 19, 2007, almost a year after Alleyne’s murder.

As such, Queen’s Counsel Andrew Pilgrim had argued that there was no case for his clients to answer and after considering the argument, Justice Winston Anderson ruled that the two death row inmates should be allowed be walk free.

In a concurring judgment, Justice Adrian Saunders also acknowledged that, prior to the Evidence Act, an accused person could be convicted solely on an alleged oral confession, provided that the jury was warned that such a conviction may be unsafe.

However, the CCJ pointed out that the purpose of the Evidence Act, which was passed by the Parliament of Barbados in 1994, was “to reform the law relating to evidence in proceedings in courts” and to apply “standards that are more stringent than the common law, [compel] the judiciary to be guided by fresh approaches and [require] the executive to make available to the police new technologies”.

Therefore, the evidence against Edwards and Haynes had to be reliable, especially given that the punishment on the statute books in Barbados for murder was death.

“Based on the spirit of the Evidence Act, alleged confessions made while in police custody could only meet this standard where it was supported by sound or video recordings of or by some other independent evidence linking the accused to the offence. For example, evidence from a witness other than another police officer or some form of forensic evidence (e.g. DNA or fingerprint). In this case, there was no other evidence and as such the judge should have dismissed the case against the appellants,” the Trinidad-based court said.

Justice Saunders was also of the view that even if the evidence was sufficient, the judge did not properly warn the jury in accordance with the Act.

Back in November 2015, the CCJ had rejected an earlier application filed on behalf of the two accused men and ordered that their case be sent back to the Barbados Court of Appeal.

At the time, Edwards and Haynes, who were convicted of murder in June 2013 and sentenced to death, were challenging the unconstitutionality of the mandatory death penalty, but the CCJ had sent the matter back to the Barbados Court of Appeal for a determination of how that issue should be resolved.

2 Responses to Condemned men freed

  1. Leroy July 26, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Barbados has to fix these issues asap. I can bet they are many many more situations like this.

    I have no way of knowing whether those charged did commit the offense but the justice system needs fixing.

    Reply
  2. Tony Waterman July 26, 2017 at 4:59 pm

    The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)

    I wish that Barbados Today, and any other news media that does this, would Stop doing it, it is pure and simply “The CCJ” I don’t remember any time when the WHITE BRITISH BASED PRIVY COUNCIL was referred to as such “British based” it was always and ONLY referred to as THE PRIVY COUNCIL.

    It is Simply Based in Trinidad, it is NOt a Trinidadian Court, it is a CARIBBEAN Court, and should ONLY be referred to as such, we should all by know where it Sits. and i see no reason why it must always be referred to as being “TRINIDAD BASED” the wrong Impression is being given that it is a TRINIDAD COURT, and NOT a CARICOM COURT.

    The reason why it Sits in T&T was simple, when it was formed, The Supreme Court Building on Coleridge Street was Inadequate, we did NOT have the new Court Building yet, Jamaica ha no suitable Infrastructure, neither did any of the other caricom Countries, T&T had an Under utilised Facility which was suitable so that was used. That is why it is where it is. even with our new Supreme Court Building on White Park Rd. there is NOT enough Facilities to house the CCJ There.

    Reply

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