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CCJ throws out appeal, Hall to be sentenced


CMC

CCJ throws out appeal, Hall to be sentenced

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Friday dismissed the appeal against the murder conviction of Carlton Hall and affirmed the order of the Barbados Court of Appeal that the appellant be brought to the Trial Court for resentencing.

On March 2, 2016, Hall was convicted of the murder of Adrian Wilkinson and sentenced to death. He appealed both his conviction and sentence.

However, the appeal against the sentence became unnecessary after the CCJ, the island’s highest court, had earlier ruled in two previous matters that the mandatory death sentence for murder was unconstitutional.

The Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal on January 23 last year and ordered that he be brought before the Trial Court for resentencing.

But Hall appealed to the CCJ arguing that the identification evidence against him was so weak and unreliable that the trial judge should not have allowed the case to go to the jury and that, having done so, was mistaken in directing that there were special circumstances to support the identification.

He also argued, for the first time, that his lawyers had failed to raise the issue of his good character and the jury may not have convicted him if his counsel had done so.

ccj1The CCJ by a majority 3-2 held that the fact that the eyewitness saw the appellant two times on the evening of the murder, prior to seeing him shoot the deceased, amounted to special circumstances within the meaning of the Barbados Evidence Act, and that the trial judge was, therefore, right to allow the case to go to the jury.

Justices Wit, Anderson and Rajnauth-Lee also decided that, although the appellant was entitled to a good character direction as he had no prior convictions for violent offences, it was clear that the jury believed the eyewitness and did not believe the appellant. So that even if the good character direction was given, it would not have made a difference to the jury’s verdict.

But in a minority opinion, Justices Barrow and Jamadar found that the identification evidence was not supported, either by special circumstances or otherwise, and that the trial judge should have accepted the no case submission by defence counsel.

Alternatively, they also felt that, had the good character direction been given, it might have swayed the jury given that the evidence against the appellant was so weak.

In the circumstances, the Court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the sentence. The CCJ also called for more searching investigations and prosecutions, noting that criminal cases, and especially capital cases, required and deserved thorough investigation and presentation of all relevant evidence. (CMC)

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