October assizes in Demerara concluded with 113 cases unheard

Out of the 141 cases that were scheduled to be heard during the October Criminal Assizes, only 28 were disposed of; 15 were dealt with in the High Court of Demerara and 13 were nolle prosequi (discontinued) based on statements from the virtual complaints.

According to a release from the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions, of the 15 cases presented 11 were for the offence of murder, one for carnal knowledge of a girl under 12 years, one for rape, another for sexual activity with a child by abusing a position of trust and another for attempted murder.

There were five not-guilty verdicts by jury, one hung jury, four formal verdicts of not guilty, three guilty pleas and two guilty verdicts by jury.

The judges who sat in the last assizes were Justices Roxane George, James Bovell-Drakes and Jo-Ann Barlow.

During the same period, the Berbice Criminal Assizes was presided over by Justice William Ramlal, who first sat during the month of October and completed the June Assizes and then opened the October Assizes. Four matters were completed by Justice Ramlall.

Of those, three were for the offence of murder and one for the offence of rape of a child under 16 years.

In one of the three murder cases, the accused pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter and was sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

In the other two murder trials the trial judge upheld no-case submissions and directed the respective juries to return formal verdicts of not guilty.

In the rape case, the virtual complainant (VC) testified in court that she did not wish to proceed with the matter and the judge directed the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty for the accused. This Assizes remains in progress.

Meanwhile, the release said, the Essequibo Criminal Assizes was presided over by Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry who completed four cases, one for the offence of rape, one for the offence of murder and two for attempted murder.

In the matter for the offence of rape the jury returned hung and the accused was ordered to face a retrial. He was however granted bail in the sum of S300,000 on condition that he reports weekly to the Charity Police Station.

The accused in the case for the offence of murder pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter and was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment.

In one of the two cases of attempted murder, the accused pleaded guilty to the alternate count of wounding with intent and was sentenced to seven years imprisonment. In the other case, the accused pleaded guilty to the offence and was sentenced to eight years imprisonment.

The DPP discontinued the rape case, because the VC in a statement indicated that she did not wish to proceed.

The release also disclosed that during 2016, 192 cases were disposed of and of that number 129 received attention in court while 63 were discontinued by the DPP.

The January 2017 Criminal Assizes for Demerara will open today and there are 140 cases listed to be heard during this session. Justices Navindra Singh and Jo-Ann Barlow have been rostered to sit during this assizes.

The Berbice Criminal Assizes will commence on February 14, with Justice Bovell-Drakes presiding, while the Essequibo Criminal Assizes is expected to open on February 7, with Justice Nareshwar Harnanan presiding. In the meantime Justice Harnanan continues the October Assizes.

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