The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC), with the support of the British High Commission and the US Embassy for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, embarked on The Sentencing Guidelines Initiative aimed at promoting and streamlining the Court’s approach to sentencing across its nine-member jurisdiction.
This Practice Direction supplements the Rules in that it regulates the practice and procedure of the Court which has been affected by the situation created with the impact of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Issues Practice Direction on Sentencing for the Offence of Murder Slated To Come Into Effect on 1st September, 2020.
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in conjunction with the Department of Sustainable Development, Government of Saint Lucia hosted a virtual consultation with members of the Judiciary of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court..
Court of Appeal Sittings – 15th to 18th September 2020
The Hon. Chief Justice, Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE, LL.D, Judicial Officers, Management and Staff of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court join the regional legal fraternity in mourning the death of Mr. Kenneth Augustine Hermas Foster, QC, CBE.
In this corner we highlight the cases of interest for your reading pleasure
Court of Appeal rules that there is no jurisdiction in Antigua and Barbuda to impose suspended sentences in criminal cases
Director of Public Prosecutions v Shane Williams was an appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions against the sentence imposed by a judge on Shane Williams for a guilty plea to a charge of sexual intercourse with a female under the age of 14. The sentence imposed was 2 years’ imprisonment, suspended for 1 year. The main issues on the appeal were (i) whether there was jurisdiction in Antigua and Barbuda to impose suspended sentences in criminal cases; and, (ii) if the court did have jurisdiction to impose suspended sentences, whether it was appropriate to impose such a sentence in the circumstances.
The Court of Appeal observed that the jurisdiction to impose a suspended sentence is a statutory jurisdiction. The Court accepted that the Legislatures in several Commonwealth Caribbean jurisdictions had passed legislation to confer this jurisdiction on their local criminal courts but noted that no such legislation had been passed in Antigua and Barbuda. The Court therefore concluded that the judge had no jurisdiction to impose a suspended sentence, in the present case or any at all. The Court, considered, in the alternative, that even if the courts in Antigua and Barbuda had the jurisdiction to impose suspended sentences, a judge should only impose such a sentence in exceptional circumstances. There were no exceptional circumstances in Williams’ case. The Court therefore found that, on any view, the judge erred in imposing the suspended sentence.
Having determined that the judge did not have jurisdiction to impose a suspended sentence, the Court set aside the judge’s sentence and considered the sentence to be imposed in its place. The Court considered this question against the circumstances of the case, including the fact that Williams only plead guilty after the judge gave an indication of the sentence he would impose if Williams pleaded guilty (a “Goodyear Indication”). The Court found that the manner in which the judge went about giving the Goodyear Indication unduly pressured Williams to plead guilty, and therefore that Williams’ plea was not voluntarily entered. Against that background, the Court considered that both Williams’ conviction and sentence were fundamentally defective and, in those circumstances, justice and fairness required that the Williams’ sentence be reckoned to be the time he already spent on remand – 7 days’ imprisonment.
Claim No. ANUHCRAP2018/0011 Baptiste, JA. Delivered: 03/07/2020