Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Hanging should never be resumed - attorneys

Published:Monday | May 9, 2016 | 5:00 AMBarbara Gayle
Nancy Anderson
McFarlane
Ian Wilkinson
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Attorney-at-law Nancy Anderson, who has represented many death row inmates and had their sentences commuted to life following changes to the law, says murder cases have not been attracting the death penalty because they do not fall into the category of the 'rarest of the rare'.

"When it comes to tackling crime, the death penalty is nothing but false promise. There is no credible evidence that execution is a deterrent," she told The Gleaner.

Anderson is calling for the Government to address the underlying issues of lack of uncontrollable access to guns, weaknesses in police investigations, equipping and training the police, and the lack of resources in the justice system.

Attorney-at-law Lloyd McFarlane is positive that there will be no more hanging in Jamaica.

"Whether Parliament has a conscience vote or not on the death penalty, in light of what has happened over the years with Privy Council decisions, amendments to the law, and especially the (Daniel Dick) Trimmingham case, which is the last straw, there is not going to be any more hanging in Jamaica," McFarlane said.

 

PRIVY COUNCIL STANCE

 

"The decision to hang or not to hang is out of the hands of the politicians," he added.

Queen's Counsel Ian Wilkinson has referred to the Pratt and Morgan and Trimmingham cases as reasons for the reduction of the number of persons on death row, as well as the apparently strong stance taken by the Privy Council in relation to death row cases; the general approach to this "final" form of punishment by many countries worldwide; the amendment to local legislation dealing with the offence of murder; and the strong advocacy and influence of human rights groups, locally and overseas.

Wilkinson said: "It is my personal view, for a number of reasons, that hanging should not be resumed. These reasons include the fact that mistakes occur in our system, leading to the risk of injustice.

It was the Trimmingham case (from St Vincent and the Grenadines) that the Court of Appeal, at a special sitting of a five-member panel, relied on in December 2010 when it set aside the death sentence of 49-year-old Peter Dougal, who was convicted of double murder and sentenced to hang.

 

DOUGAL CONVICTION

 

Dougal was convicted in 2007 of the murder of former president of the Jamaica Gasolene Retailers Association Lloyd G. Brown and his companion, Sandra Campbell. They were shot dead in bed at their home in Stony Hill, St Andrew, in 2005. The police held Dougal a few hours later with the murder weapon.

Dougal, who was represented by Dr Randolph Williams, had only appealed against his sentence.

Although the Privy Council found that the facts in the Trimmingham case displayed cruelty and inhumanity, it said in its majority decision that the crime fell short of the quality of the rarest of the rare and the worst of the worst.

Trimmingham, who was armed with a gun, had held up a 68-year-old man and demanded money. When the victim said he had no money, Trimmingham used the victim's machete to behead him and then cut out his abdomen and buried the head in a hole.

The Court of Appeal held in Dougal's case that "the manner of the execution and the design in the killing would put it at the level of extreme cruelty to the extent where it could be described as cold-blooded", but it had to be guided by the Privy Council in the Trimmingham case.

The court said that from the ruling in the Trimmingham case, it seemed that only killings by terrorism, sadism, and after prolonged humiliation or torture could attract the death penalty.

barbara.gayle@gleanerjm.com