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Gercine Carter


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BARBADOS MAY have seen the last of hangings.This is the view of Sir Richard Cheltenham, prominent attorney-at-law who said: “We may never see hanging in Barbados again” – though the death penalty remains on the statute books.In an interview with the DAILY NATION, Sir Richard said the ruling by Britain’s Privy Council in the Pratt & Morgan case may have effectively ended the ability of the authorities to hang murderers.He explained: “With the criminal’s right to resort to and exhaust all appellate channels, you cannot get through all these processes within five years, forcing sentencing to be commuted to life imprisonment.”Death penaltyBut he noted that, in contrast, the United States continued to execute for offences committed as long as 30 years earlier.The death penalty was last administered in Barbados in the 1980s when three murderers were executed on the same day. Cheltenham was the acting Attorney General with responsibility for signing off on those executions. The acclaimed attorney, who has successfully defended many a high-profile murder accused, told the DAILY NATION: “I have always been a death penalty man because in a small society the murdering of people has an impact on the whole society.”But he said there was “ongoing discussion at a certain level” about what could be done about the whole question surrounding capital punishment. He anticipated that Government would soon make its position clear.Meanwhile, Sir Richard said his information was that most of the murder cases coming before the court nowadays were drug-gang-related, averaging “well over 20 murder cases a year for a long time”.He said this was in contrast to the three or four such cases when he was first admitted to the Bar four decades ago.