The Court of Appeal dismissed Rabindranauth Deo’s appeal that his offence was one of manslaughter not murder

Dear Editor,

I refer to an article which appeared in your newspaper of Monday, November 2 last under the caption ‘Ramotar expresses regret for pardon of child killer.’

I would like to make some clarification concerning the case of Rabindranauth Deo, who was convicted in the High Court of murdering Vishnu Bhim.

The High Court trial was presided over by Madam Justice Claudette Singh, who was later appointed a Judge of the Court of Appeal and who is now legal adviser to the police.

Deo appealed his conviction for murder to the Court of Appeal where it was argued by counsel on his behalf that the offence was one of manslaughter and not one of murder.

Acting Chief Justice Chang, who was then the acting Director of Public Prosecution, was also of the view that the offence was one of manslaughter only. He had appeared on behalf of the state at the appeal hearing. However, the Court of Appeal over which I had presided along with Justices of Appeal Lennox Perry and Prem Persaud, after listening to the arguments on both sides and having considered the evidence and the relevant case law unanimously dismissed the appeal and affirmed the conviction and sentence for murder (see (1997) 57/WIR P174).

The Court held:-

“It is sufficient to found a conviction for Murder for a party to a killing (the secondary party, as the appellant was) who was present at the scene to have realized without agreeing to such conduct, that another party (the primary party) might in the course of a joint enterprise kill a third party with intent to do so or with intent to cause grievous bodily harm if the secondary party nevertheless continued after such realization to participate in the joint enterprise.”

I must mention that in two cases subsequently heard by the Privy Council and the House of Lords, respectively, the two courts adopted the same approach as our Court of Appeal had done in Deo’s case.

Those courts also held that convictions for murder were well founded in law.

Yours faithfully,
Cecil C Kennard
Former Chancellor
of the Judiciary

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