Webb goes back before judge and jury
Yet another murder trial that Dominicans felt had been signed, sealed and delivered is to be retried at the High Court.
Last week the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) that met in Dominica upheld the murder appeal of Sherman Webb of Kingshill who had appealed against his 2012 conviction.
Webb was given a sentence of life in jail by Justice Bernie Stephenson after he was found guilty of murdering Corey Rohan Poleon of St. Lucy, Barbados.
At last week's hearing, Peter Alleyne, Webb's lawyer argued before the ECSC judges that the trial Judge should have properly explained to the jury the "ingredients of self-defence."
"My client's case is that of self-defence…you have to look at his evidence in total. The Judge gave practically nothing in that regard; she was obliged to raise the evidence of self-defence to properly help the jury in their task," Alleyne told the court.
His grounds of appeal were hat the trial Judge misdirected herself when she failed to properly direct the jury on the following: the meaning of accident in law; the law governing self-defence; accident as put forward by the accused and, furthermore, she was biased and prejudiced towards the accused.
The Judges, however, dismissed Alleyne's first ground of appeal but upheld ground two. They concluded that the trial Judge gave directions in "a vacuum."
According to Justices of Appeal Baptiste, Webster and Thorm, the trial Judge had an obligation to mention the "defence raised."
One judge said the case was "funny and mystical" and that never before has a matter where the issue of "self-defence" was raised in such circumstances had been brought before the ECSC.
The ECSC judges concluded that the High Court judge did not properly put to the jury the issue of self-defence…her treatment of the defence of the accused was quite dismissive. She also ignored the critical part of the appellant's defence and did not properly assist the jury in the defence raised by the appellant.
The ECSC judges declared that the appeal against Webb's conviction was allowed, the sentence quashed and the matter was remitted to the high court where the appellant is to face another trial for murder.
Fernillia Felix, the State attorney in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) also conceded that the trial Judge did not adequately put Webb's case of "self-defence" to the jury.
Information revealed at the trial indicates that Poleon, a former University of the West Indies (UWI) student visited Dominica in February of 2009 and again on August 3, 2009 to meet Webb. The two men had allegedly met on the Internet. Poleon's family reported him missing after he failed to return home to Barbados. His mortal remains were later found under the floorboards of a small wooden house in Elmshall, Dominica.
Webb allegedly took Poleon to the heights of River Claire in Elmshall to a little wooden shack where he "chopped him on both sides of his neck" causing him to bleed to death.
Police removed the floorboards and dug a hole where skeletal remains of the deceased were recovered along with a greenish rubber wristband bearing his name.
Investigators reportedly also found several items of paraphernalia related to some form of satanic ritual at Webb's home.
Samples of the remains unearthed by police were taken to Jamaica and Barbados for testing and were confirmed to be those of Poleon. Webb was later charged with the Poleon's murder.
Webb's retrial is not unusual. Over the past few years, the ECSC has ordered the re-trial of at least four murder cases because of errors at the first stages of the trials.