Two hundred and twenty-six cases are set to be heard during the Demerara Assizes sessions which open today.
In a press release, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali Hack said the Berbice assizes will be opened on February 7 and the Essequibo assizes on February 21.
The release also said that the October 2011 Criminal Assizes in Demerara closed on Wednesday January 4 after Justice Winston Patterson and Madam Justice Dawn Gregory sat to hear 206 matters. Each judge had a list of 103 matters for hearing and six were tried.
Justice Patterson held three trials where two unanimous verdicts of not guilty were returned by the jury in matters of murder and carnal knowledge of a girl under 15 years.
In the third matter, which was for the offence of murder there was a hung jury and therefore the case will have to be called again, the release said.
Justice Gregory completed three matters. In one of the matters—attempted murder—the jury returned a verdict of guilty and the accused was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment minus the time served from 2007 to 2011.
In the other two matters which were for the offence of murder, the jury returned two unanimous verdicts of not guilty.
The DPP says despite only one conviction, strong evidence was presented in the five other cases.
The DPP nolle prosequi five matters were for the offences of wounding with intent, carnal knowledge, attempted murder, rape and causing death by dangerous driving. In the first matter, the case was nolle prosequi because the victim had died and in the carnal knowledge case the victim migrated. In the attempted murder case the accused died and in the other two matters none of the witnesses attended court to testify. “This brought a total of ten matters being competed and one matter to be retried in the High Court of Demerara,” the release said.
Criminal assizes were also heard in Essequibo and Berbice.
There were 15 cases listed for hearing before Justice James Bovell-Drakes during the October 2011 Criminal Assizes in Essequibo, including one for the offence of manslaughter which was completed with a not guilty verdict.
In the Berbice October 2011 Assizes, Justice Roxane George completed three trials from a list of 34 cases. One of the matters completed was for the offence of murder and the accused pleaded guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter. He was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment.
In the other two cases which were for the offences of buggery and indecent assault and carnal knowledge, the jury returned not guilty verdicts for all counts in both cases.
The DPP said in 2011, 61 cases received attention with 53 being presented in court and eight nolle prosequi. Of these, 40 were from the Demerara Assizes, 15 from Berbice and six from the Essequibo sessions. There were 31 cases for the offence of murder, two for manslaughter, one for incest, five for rape, one for armed robbery, three for causing grievous bodily harm, 12 for carnal knowledge, one for buggery, three for attempted murder, one for wounding with intent and one for causing death by dangerous driving.