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Privy Council rules Jamaican man to be resentenced for murder

Published:Wednesday | February 17, 2016 | 2:00 AMBarbara Gayle

The United Kingdom Privy Council has directed that 48-year-old Richard Brown, who was convicted in 2003 of murder, must be resentenced because it was not clear that the judge took into account the time he spent in custody because he was unfit to plead.

In remitting the case to the Court of Appeal for its consideration, the Privy Council said that Brown's "long-standing mental health problems will be an additional factor to be taken into consideration".

After he was convicted, Brown was sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to serve 25 years before parole.

Brown was charged in 1998 for the murder of Errol Lynch, also called 'Weed Man'.

Lynch was shot dead at his house on Swallowfield Road, Kingston, in September 1998, when Brown and other men went there to buy ganja.

Brown denied committing the murder. He said in his defence that he went to the house to "buy a bag of weed" when some men came up, ordered weed, and then shot Lynch.

The sole eyewitness died before the trial, but his statement was tendered in evidence at the trial in 2003. He said he had known Brown for several years and was in his yard when he saw Brown shooting the deceased.

TRIAL DELAYED

Brown's trial was delayed because psychiatrists said he was mentally ill and unfit to plead.

Following a report in November 2002 that Brown was fit to plead, he was tried in January 2003 and convicted.

When Brown's appeal came before the Privy Council this month, English lawyers who represented him argued that his conviction should be overturned on the grounds of diminished responsibility. They pointed out that there were medical reports that Brown had suffered from mental illness since 1987 due to drug abuse.

The Privy Council held that there was no evidence about the manner in which Brown was behaving at the material time to suggest that his responsibility for his conduct had been substantially impaired from his illness. There was also absence of adequate psychiatric evidence of diminished responsibility. There were psychiatric reports in April 2001 and November 2002 that Brown was fit to plead.

Brown's appeal against conviction was also dismissed because the Privy Council said that he had failed to show that he would have a viable defence of diminished responsibility. The Privy Council said that Brown did not show that it would be in the interest of justice that he should be given an opportunity at this stage to advance a case contrary to the previous defence he had steadfastly maintained.

The Privy Council said that Brown should be given full allowance for the four years and four months he spent in custody unless there was a particular reason for directing otherwise.