DPP: Appeal court sends strong deterrent message

| 20/01/2020 | 18 Comments
Cayman News Service
Director of Public Prosecutions Patrick Moran

(CNS): The lengthy tariffs that prosecutors secured in the Grand Court over the last few years for killers now serving life sentences in HMP Northward were all upheld by the Court of Appeal in 2019, which the director of public prosecutions said serves as an important deterrent. In his address at the opening of the Grand Court last week, Patrick Moran said the higher court’s judgments had sent an extremely strong message.

Moran explained that last year the Court of Appeal dealt with several important criminal cases, including one in which multiple challenges were brought to the minimum prison terms given to men serving life sentences for murder and in one case multiple rapes.

“In each case the Crown argued that the minimum terms were appropriate. The Court of Appeal agreed, and upheld minimum terms for those five offenders with a combined total of over 160 years,” he said.

Brian Borden, Larry Ricketts, Raziel Jeffers and Leonard Ebanks all had their sentence tariffs for murder upheld, and the jail time for serial sex-offender Jeffery Barnes was also confirmed by the appeal court for two rapes.

But this was not the only deterrent message sent out by the senior judges. “In two further appeals against sentence, in cases involving firearms, custodial sentences well into double figures were upheld on appeal.”

But before defendants get to the appeal court they first need to go through the criminal justice process in the lower courts, and Moran told the legal fraternity that the caseload of the criminal courts did not abate in the last 12 months. He said that in the Grand Court his prosecutors dealt with 110 new indictments in 2019, while 111, including some carried over from 2018, were disposed of.

“This represents an increase of over 20% on case disposals from the previous year,” he said, but warned things could get even more hectic on the criminal side. “It should be remembered, however, that just one complex trial can take up a far greater amount of court time than five or six more straightforward cases. With an increasing number of such complex trials, the Grand Court’s criminal workload may become busier than ever before.”

He also noted the massive amount of work now happening in the Summary Court. “The work of the Summary Court has remained somewhat more constant. Constantly busy. Our records indicate that over 2,000 live criminal charges were before the Summary Court in 2019, not including traffic cases,” he told the audience.

Crediting the team of magistrates and Judicial Administration for getting through the workload, he also spoke about the measures being taken to improve efficiency so that the courts can cope with the growing workloads.

Moran said the implementation of and adherence to the new Criminal Procedure Rules by all stakeholders should result in more effective use of court time and less delay within the system.

“The enforcement of these rules will ensure that the wheels of justice turn at a pace set by the Court,” he added.

In addition, a criminal trials workshop led by Justice Dame Dobbs in July 2019 was well received and well attended by practitioners from both sides of the Criminal Bar and there is hope that will also help in the struggle for efficiency.

The lack of efficiency was highlighted in a report on the Summary Court by the Office of the Auditor General last year, but Moran said that another project was undertaken later in the year to examine ways in which improvements could be made to the criminal justice system.

“Expert consultants, engaged by the judiciary, conducted a thorough review of processes, in conjunction with various stakeholders, and we look forward to their recommendations in due course,” he added.

Moran explained that his office was also increasingly working on the global fight against financial crime. The DPP said his office dealt with 39 requests for international legal assistance, emanating from 14 different countries, the highest it has ever handled.

He said these requests can be complicated and time consuming but in one complex case the office received personal thanks from the director of the United Kingdom Serious Fraud Office for its help.

The DPP also spoke about the work his office is doing to help prosecute financial criminals here and enhance Cayman’s ability to combat illicit flows of money, following the findings in the CFATF report that noted the gaps in the system. He said the prosecutions office has added two full-time positions for counsel specialising in financial crime.

“Such cases can be extremely complex and require a particular skillset. We have also rolled out an extensive programme of financial crime training to all of our team, in order to ensure that everyone can play their part when called upon. We are determined to do so. Much good work has been done, and much remains to do,” Moran admitted.

See the DPP’s full address in the CNS Library


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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (18)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    you all realize the agenda for the new ammend to the practitioner’s law to be debated calls for all practitioners to be immune from lawsuits in the cayman islands? here we go again????😦

  2. Anonymous says:

    yet, when govt does something wrong…they drag and frustrate just to not pay????

  3. Anonymous says:

    We need to demand from the DPP statistics on what percentage of cases prosecuted resulted in convictions? How does this ratio compare to the UK? And how does it compare to say another affluent British dependency e.g. Bermuda? There is reason to believe that the DPP’s office may be contributing to clog in Courts by bringing charges who ought not to be brought and many fail with significant expense to the Government and pressure on the system. DPP – stats please exclude traffic offence.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Killers should get life but I for one can’t understand why a rapist gets a life sentence. A couple decades perhaps?

  5. Anonymous says:

    The government is ignoring the court of appeal. Why can’t everyone else?

  6. Concerned says:

    Reports are that a child molester from Bodden Town sentenced to 6 years for what the judge described as a grave offence is now out of gaol after 2 years. If true this is certainly no deterrent!.

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