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Judge Scolds Prosecutors- Laments Late Submissions

Court of Appeal (COA) President Justice Anita Allen on Thursday scolded Crown prosecutors for making late submissions to the court.

The court was supposed to be dealing with a case involving former Police Corporal Donovan Gardiner.

Gardiner is serving a 10-year prison sentence after being convicted of Desmond Key’s manslaughter.

Key died of pancreatitis at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH). He had been in the hospital for seven months after being beaten with a baseball bat in a holding cell at the Grove Police Station on June 17, 2007.

Gardiner’s attorney, Wayne Munroe was scheduled to make submissions on his behalf against his conviction and sentence, but unfortunately that did not happen.

On Thursday, after Mr. Munroe rose to his feet the COA panel was notified by the prosecution’s attorney, Anthony Delaney, that he had just submitted authorities to the court which he wished to rely on.

That is when the firestorm began.

Court of Appeal (COA) President Anita Allen said it is “unacceptable” to file authorities and documents late.

“It happens too often despite a practice direction being in place that speaks to the time in which any attorney must file their documents,” she said.

“In recent times, the panel is receiving documents on the morning of hearings and if it were not for the freedom of the appellant we would not accept them. We are tired of this and are unable to prepare ourselves properly. When documents are filed on time, it saves the court time and allows us to determine what the issues are.”

Justice Abdulleh Conteh agreed noting that filing submissions may be acceptable at trial but not in the appellate court.

The president then told the attorneys that she was not prepared to deal with the matter noting once again, she likes to know the issues beforehand.

The matter was then adjourned to June 4, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.

Justice Conteh then told the attorneys that if they come across any other authorities or supporting documents they are to file them with the court in advance.

“The crown added three cases. One of them was already in our bundle, the other two I don’t see how they would apply but the point being made by the judges is that when they come out on the bench they should know what’s going to be before them so they can ask sensible questions,” Mr. Munroe told reporters following the submission.

They have two cases where they don’t know what’s in them and that would affect the ability for them to ask me questions even though they are not my cases. It gives the court time to be properly read in and it’s always best for the court to have as much as possible.”

Mr. Munroe said ultimately he is seeking to have the conviction quashed.
Back in June 2012, in a written ruling on Donovan Gardiner, Justice Vera Watkins said she had taken into account a number of factors, including a plea of mitigation when she sentenced Gardiner to 10 years in prison.
Gardiner, a 39-year-old married father of two, faced up to life behind bars for the Father’s Day 2007 beating that eventually resulted in Key’s death seven months later.
“I have reviewed the evidence at trial and the mitigation plea made by counsel for Gardiner,” the judge’s ruling said.
“In particular, I have noted that Gardiner has not expressed any remorse. I have also noted that the evidence suggests that the victim may have been under the influence of alcohol and he was in custody of the police at the time of the incident. It is reasonable to conclude that if the victim was intoxicated then his powers of reasoning may have been impaired.”
She also said that as an experienced police officer, this ought to have been an indication to Gardiner that there was a possibility of unusual or abnormal behaviour on the part of the victim and that the victim ought to have been treated with particular care.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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