Home News 36 cases disposed of in 1st quarter by Demerara Criminal Assizes
A total of 36 cases were disposed of at the January sitting of the Demerara Criminal Assizes, according to a statement from the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The session commenced on January 12, 2021, with 342 cases listed to be heard.
Of these 36 matters, the DPP presented 23 in the High Court of Demerara. The other 13 matters were nolle prosequi in writing by the DPP. Of the 23 matters, 14 were for murder, eight for sexual offences, and one for attempt to commit murder with an alternate count of felonious wounding.
There were 29 accused in relation to these matters. There were four convictions, three formal verdicts of not guilty, eight hung juries, eight not guilty verdicts by jury, and five guilty pleas. Before Justice Navindra Singh, eight cases were presented for murder.
In three of these cases, the juries returned hung and the accused were remanded back to prison to await new trials. In the other five matters, one of which had two accused who both pleaded guilty, they were respectively sentenced to 39 and 29 years’ imprisonment.
In another two, one accused was sentenced to 60 years’ imprisonment after the jury found him unanimously guilty, while the other one pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter and was sentenced to seven years and 11 months’ imprisonment. In one of the other two cases, the Trial Judge upheld a no-case submission and directed the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty.
The accused in the other one was acquitted by the jury with a unanimous verdict of not guilty.
Another eight matters for sexual offences were presented before Justice Jo-Ann Barlow in the Sexual Offences Court. In two of these cases, the accused were both found guilty by the jury. One accused who was indicted on two counts of rape of a child under 16 years was sentenced to 22 years on the first count and 25 years on the second count. These sentences will run concurrently.
The other accused was sentenced to 21 years’ imprisonment. Four accused were acquitted by jury verdicts while in the other two cases, the juries returned hung. The accused in the latter cases are awaiting a retrial. Seven matters were presented before Justice Brassington Reynolds.
Six of the matters were for murder, and one for attempt to commit murder with an alternate count of felonious wounding. The accused who was indicted for attempt to commit murder with the alternate count of felonious wounding was found guilty of the latter offence. He was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment and the complainant accepted compensation of $500,000 in court.
In three of the six murder matters, the accused were all acquitted. Two of the acquittals were by jury verdicts, while in the other matter, the Trial Judge upheld a no-case submission and directed the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty. In one of the murder cases, the two accused who were indicted together were found not guilty by the jury.
In the other three matters, two accused pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter. One of them was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, the other is awaiting sentencing. A murder trial is still in progress before Justice Reynolds.
Of the 13 nolle prosequi matters by the DPP, 12 were for sexual offences and another for trafficking in narcotics. In 11 of the sexual offences matters, the complainants submitted written statements that they did not wish to proceed with their matters.
In the other case, the accused died while awaiting trial. In the other matter for trafficking a narcotic substance, the accused was committed to stand trial 24 years ago and the witness could not be located. The April Demerara Criminal Assizes will commence on Tuesday, April 6, 2020; 329 cases are listed to be heard.
Justice Sandil Kissoon and Justice Brassington Reynolds are rostered to sit.