High Court retries four
January 2015 High Court session begins
ROSEAU, Dominica, 13 January, 2015 (SUN)- It must be painful for Herbert Xavier, Loretta Xavier and Manuella Williams, the Soufriere three accused of killing their brother. Painful yet hopeful; painful to face a judge and jury twice for the same offence; hopeful that the second jury will be kinder than the first.
In 2013, the three were jailed for 15 years after a nine-member jury found them guilty of murdering their brother, Harrison Williams in 2010 in Soufriere.
Late last year appeal court judges Louise Blenman, Gertel Thom and Mario Michel of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) ruled that errors in law made during the summation by trial Judge Brian Cottle were "fatal".
The appeal, led by lawyers Dawn Yearwood-Stewart along with Wayne Norde and Ronald Charles, argued that in his summation Judge Cottle failed to give the jury the proper direction on manslaughter.
"He only left them with the charge of murder and gave no directions of man slaughter," Dawn Yearwood-Stewart told the ECSC.
She added that nowhere in the summation of the Judge did he explain to the jury about self-defense and provocation and that his failure to do so "according to case law, the conviction must he rendered unsafe and quashed."
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Evelina Baptiste conceded that the Judge failed to give the alternative of manslaughter to the jury and he clearly "erred in law."
The ECSC then allowed the appeal against the conviction of the three and granted the DPP leave to have the accused persons retried for murder, if the DPP desires. The judges also stated that the DPP should consider the quality of the evidence, the interest of the public and families plus the community interest and the seriousness of the charge.
Today, 12 January the three accused face the court again as the January criminal session opened.
Kenrick Tyson also appeared for retrial following similar orders by the ECSC.
Meanwhile, the January 2105 court session is saturated with sexual offences cases; 13 of 25 cases listed are for sex crimes such as buggery, incest, unlawful sexual intercourse, indecent assault, gross indecency and rape.