Come next month convicted child molester Andre Birbal must have an attorney or be prepared to represent himself in the Court of Appeal (COA).
On Thursday, the appellate panel told Birbal there would be no further adjournments in his matter after his court appointed attorney was successful in withdrawing himself from the matter.
Jiriam Mangra, who was appointed by the court in April, told the panel that there were fundamental difficulties in arguing for Birbal.
Describing those difficulties as “serious hurdles,” Mr. Mangra said the he did not believe that the grounds Birbal wished for him to argue the appeal on were arguable and thus it would be unwise and unfair to represent him.
In January 2011 Birbal was convicted of having unnatural sexual intercourse with two of his former male students at the Eight Mile Rock High School.
When the justices – COA President Anita Allen and Justices Stanley John and Abdulleh Conteh – asked Birbal how the matter should proceed he told them he needed time to prepare, noting that it would take him three months.
He was also asked whether he could afford counsel to which he responded it would be difficult. However, he said he has family members who are willing to assist him.
The justices, however, told Birbal that his matter has to go on and that the court had already appointed two lawyers for him.
They said the matter had to continue with or without counsel.
Justice Allen then told Birbal that they would set a definite date in July and that there would be no further adjournments.
“Either come with counsel or come prepared to represent yourself,” she said.
“We are not going to adjourn this case anymore. This is the last adjournment and we will not appoint anymore counsel for you at the public’s expense. This matter has been in the system for 18 months. I’m sure you know all the evidence against you.”
On January 26, 2011, 49-year-old Birbal was found guilty of all five counts relating to the first male student.
Police said he had sex with the student between January 2002 and June 2007.
The jury returned guilty verdicts of 6-3 on counts one, two and three, and a 7-2 guilty verdict on counts four and five.
In relation to the second male student, Birbal, who had sex with the student between September 2002 and December 2005, was found guilty on one of three counts.
The jury found the teacher not guilty by a vote of 5-4 on counts six and seven, but found him guilty by a vote of 7-2 on count eight.
Birbal, a Trinidadian, was employed as an art teacher at the Eight Mile Rock High School for 18 years, before resigning in 2009, after the allegations surfaced.
He taught one of the boys for five years, and the second for six weeks.
Attorney Jillian Williams appeared on behalf of the Attorney General’s Office.
The matter is now set for June 26 at 10:00 a.m.