25 of 307 cases disposed of at October Demerara Criminal Assizes

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

The October Demerara Criminal Assizes commenced on October 4 at the High Court in Demerara, and according to a statement from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), only 25 of 307 cases were disposed of.

Of the 25 matters, 21 were presented in the Demerara High Court of which seven were for the capital offence of murder, 13 for sexual offences, and a matter for manslaughter

The remaining four were nolle prosequi by the DPP. There were six convictions, eight guilty pleas, three not-guilty verdicts by jury, three formal verdicts of not guilty, and one hung jury.

State Counsel Muntaz Ali, Taneisha Saygon, and Simran Gajraj completed six matters of which five were for the offence of murder and one for the offence of manslaughter before Justice Simone Morris-Ramlall and Justice Sandil Kissoon.

In two of these cases, the accused persons were acquitted by jury verdicts of not guilty; in another two, the trial Judge upheld no case submissions and directed the juries to return formal verdicts of not guilty; in one other, the accused pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.

And one other accused was found guilty of the lesser offence of manslaughter by the jury verdict and was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment.

State Counsel Caressa Henry, Cecilia Corbin, and Marissa Edwards prosecuted 13 sexual offences before Justice Sandil Kissoon in the Sexual Offences Court.

In five of these cases,  the accused all pleaded guilty as charged. While one of them was sentenced to life imprisonment and becomes eligible for parole after serving 18 years, two others were respectively sentenced to nine years’ and 11 years’ imprisonment.

A fourth person who was charged with two counts of rape of a child under 16 years was sentenced to 16 years and three months on each count. His sentences will run concurrently. While the other one, who was charged with three counts of the same offence was sentenced to 12 years on count one, 13 years and three months on count two, and 15 years and three months imprisonment on count three. These sentences are to run concurrently.

Meanwhile, in another five cases, the juries returned guilty verdicts for each accused. In one of these, the accused who was indicted on three counts each of rape of a child under 16 years was

sentenced to 15 years on count one, and 17 years each on counts two and three after the jury returned a majority guilty verdict in the proportion of 10 guilty to two not guilty.

His sentences will also run concurrently.

Another accused who was also charged with three counts of rape of a child under 16 years was

found guilty on count two and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. The other three persons were found unanimously guilty by jury verdicts; while one was given a life sentence and another sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment, the other one will be sentenced in January 2023.

In the three other cases, an accused was acquitted by jury verdict while one other will face a retrial because his jury was unable to reach a verdict.

The virtual complainant in the one other testified she did not wish to give evidence and as such, the judge directed the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty.

Before Justice Brassington Reynolds, State Counsel Latiffa Elliot, Paneeta Persaud, and Rbina Christmas presented and completed two matters for the offence of murder.

In both cases, the accused pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter and were sentenced respectively to eight and six years’ imprisonment.

Of the four matters nolle prosequi by the DPP, two were for sexual offences in which the complainants, in each, submitted written statements they did not wish to proceed with their matters. The two others were for the offence of manslaughter; in one, the accused was deemed unfit to stand trial while in the other, the witnesses could not be located.

The Demerara January 2023 Criminal Assizes will open on Tuesday, January 10, 2023.

There are 307 cases listed to be heard. Justices Jo-Ann Barlow, Priya Sewnarine-Beharry, and Simone Morris-Ramlall have been rostered to sit during this Assizes.