The backlog in Demerara has been reduced as 40 cases were disposed off during the January 2016 Demerara Criminal Assizes.
The session commenced on January 12 with a total of 184 cases listed and concluded on Friday after the Gaol Delivery was done by Madam Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry.
Justice Sewnarine-Beharry along with Justice Navindra Singh and Justice Jo-Ann Barlow presided over the assizes.
Of the 40 matters disposed of, 33 were presented in the High Court and seven were nolle prosequi by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Of these 33 presented in the Demerara High Court, seven were for Murder, three for Rape, three for Carnal Knowledge of Girl under 15 years, four for Rape of a Child under 16 years, four for Manslaughter, eight for Attempt to Commit Murder, three for Sexual Activity with a Child Family Member and one for Causing Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent .
There were eight convictions, 12 formal verdicts of not guilty, nine not guilty verdicts by jury, two guilty pleas and one hung jury. In one case the accused was remanded to prison because he was in breach of the conditions of his bail and he is awaiting trial.
Justice Singh completed 17 matters. In one of four murder cases, the accused pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of Manslaughter and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Another murder case resulted in the accused being sentenced to 88 years after the jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict. The accused in the third matter was sentenced to 28 years after the jury returned a majority verdict in proportion of 11 guilty to one not guilty on the lesser offence of Manslaughter. While in the other case, the judge upheld a no case submission and directed the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty.
The State has appealed this matter.
In three separate cases for the offence of Rape, the victims testified in Court that they did not wish to proceed with the evidence against the accused and as such the judge directed the jury to return formal verdicts of not guilty.
There were two matters of Rape of a Child under 16 years, both accused were each sentenced to 25 years after the respective juries were unanimous with guilty verdicts.
In one of the three cases of Attempt to Commit Murder, the complainant offered no evidence against the accused. The second matter resulted with the accused pleaded guilty to the alternative charge of Wounding with Intent and was sentenced to nine years imprisonment. The accused in the third trial was sentenced to 15 years after he was found guilty by a majority verdict of 10 guilty to 2 not guilty.
In one of the three matters of Sexual Activity with a Child Family Member, the complainant indicated to the Court that she did not wish to proceed with the evidence against the accused. The accused in the third case was remanded to prison pending his trial in April because he was in breach of the conditions of his bail.
In the two cases of Manslaughter, the accused were both acquitted consequent upon the judge directing the jury to return formal verdicts of not guilty due to insufficient evidence.
Meanwhile, Justice Barlow completed eight matters. There were two matters of Carnal Knowledge of Girl under 15 years, in which one of the accused, facing three counts, being acquitted after the jury returned a majority verdict of 10 not guilty to two guilty. The trial for the other matter was aborted after the Court learnt that the accused had died before the verdict was given.
The accused in a case of Manslaughter was acquitted by a unanimous jury verdict of not guilty.
Of the four matters of Attempt to Commit Murder, one accused was freed after the two complainants testified that they did not wish to offer any evidence. In another trial, the accused, who was indicted with Wounding With Intent and Discharging a Loaded Firearm with Intent, was found guilty by a majority verdict in proportion 10 guilty to two not guilty on the second count of Wounding With Intent and was sentenced to eight years.
The third case of Attempt to commit Murder with an alternative count of wounding with Intent, the jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty on the alternative count and the accused was sentenced to ten years. The accused in the fourth trial was acquitted by a unanimous jury verdict.
Justice Barlow heard one Murder case which resulted in the accused being acquitted by a unanimous verdict by the jury.
On the other hand, Justice Sewnarine-Beharry completed eight matters. In four separate matters of Carnal Knowledge of a Girl under 15 years, one for Murder, one for Rape of a Child under 16 years and another one for Manslaughter, the accused were all acquitted after the respective juries returned verdicts of not guilty.
In one case of Causing Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent, the victim testified that she no longer wanted to proceed with the matter. Then a Murder case ended with a hung jury causing the accused to be remanded to prison for a new trial. An accused of a Rape of a child under 16 years was acquitted after the victim informed the court that she did not wish to proceed with the matter.
In the case for Attempt to commit Murder with the alternative count of causing Grievous Bodily Harm the jury returned a majority not guilty verdict of 11 to 1 for the offence of Attempt to Commit Murder but guilty of the alternative count of Causing Grievous Bodily Harm. The accused was sentenced to seven years.
Of the seven matters nolle prosequi by the DPP, five of them were for Buggery, Carnal Knowledge of Girl under 15 years, Sexual Activity with a Child by Abusing a Position of Trust, and Rape of a child Under 16 years because the complainants in written statements indicated they no longer wished to proceed with their matters.
The other two matters were for Murder with the two accused burnt in the fire at the Georgetown Prisons during the riots in March 2016.
The Demerara April Assizes will commence Tuesday, April 5 with 163 cases listed. Justice Singh, Justice Barlow and Justice Sewnarine-Beharry will continue to sit.
During the months of January to March, seven matters were disposed of in the Court of Appeal while three matters were done in the Demerara Full Court.