Convictions for murder, sexual offences top 60% last year
More than 60 per cent of the persons prosecuted for murders and sexual offences in the Home Circuit Court last year were convicted.
That is according to figures compiled by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), which showed, too, that the total number of murder and sex-related cases disposed of in the Home Circuit Court last year did little to ease the current backlog.
Prosecutors got convictions in 67 per cent, or 55, of the 82 murder cases that were tried in the Home Circuit Court last year. The other cases ended in acquittals. For sexual offences, the figures show that 97 of the 134 cases that were removed from the court list last year ended in convictions.
Paula Llewellyn, the nation's top prosecutor, described the figures as a fair achievement, notwithstanding the challenges facing the justice system, and bristled at suggestions that the rate of conviction should have been higher.
"It is only in a dictatorship or a banana republic that you would be able to guarantee what the result will be," Llewellyn told The Gleaner.
"We are governed by the rule of law. Therefore, ultimately, no case is pre-determined. It all depends on the cogency, credibility, and reliability of the evidence," she continued.
According to the ODPP figures, 893 cases are down for trial before the Home Circuit Court, which covers Kingston and St Andrew. This includes 396 for murder and 392 for sexual offences.
A breakdown of the figures shows that 108 of these cases have been before the courts for between five and 14 years and that 96 are for the offence of murder. The ODPP said no trial dates have been set for 29 of those cases, while the remainder remain on the trial list.
A total of 262 cases have been on the court list for between two and four years.