Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Spared by Corrections - Convicted murderer saved from additional prison time by alert prison officials

Published:Sunday | June 12, 2016 | 6:00 AMBarbara Gayle

Alert correctional officers last week saved 35-year-old Dwayne Tulloch from spending 25 more years in prison than he was sentenced to.

Tulloch was sentenced in May 2011 to life imprisonment for murder and ordered to serve 15 years before he became eligible for parole.

An appeal was filed against sentence because the transcript, which is the official court record, showed the sentence as 50 years before parole.

When Tulloch had applied for leave to appeal, the Court of Appeal judge who heard the application had ruled that the presiding judge gave detailed instructions to the jury.

The judge said then that the circumstances of the killing may be described as callous as Tulloch intended to kill family members. "In my view, he should be imprisoned for the rest of his natural life. Hence, I think the sentence (50 years) was appropriate," said the judge.

Tulloch next filed an appeal against the sentence, which was heard by a three-member panel.

Attorney-at-law C.J. Mitchell, who represented Tulloch on appeal, argued that the sentence was manifestly excessive.

He cited cases to show that there were many other murder cases committed in similar circumstances and the sentences were far less than that imposed on Tulloch.

"We did comparisons during the appeal hearing with similar cases including home invasions and came to the consensus that sentence was usually 30 to 35 years before parole, " Mitchell told The Sunday Gleaner last week.

The Court of Appeal ruled that Tulloch should serve 40 years before parole.

When the court order was sent to the prison, a comparison was made with the order that was sent to the prison when Tulloch was convicted and sentenced. It showed a discrepancy, and the prison authorities contacted the Court of Appeal Registry seeking clarification.

Checks were made and it was revealed that the indictment, which was endorsed by the judge who sentenced Tulloch, as well as the record at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, had him being sentenced to 15 years, and it was the court reporter who had made an error by recording 50 years.

The matter was sent back to the Court of Appeal for the issue of sentencing to be resolved.

Mitchell told The Sunday Gleaner that when he saw how lenient the sentence was, he did not oppose sentence and instead asked the court to abide by it.

"The judge was generous to give him 15 years, and that was his lucky day," said Mitchell.

The Appeal Court later affirmed the sentence of 15 years before eligibility for parole.

JAMAICA WOULD BENEFIT

In response, Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn told our news team that Jamaica would benefit from standardisation in relation to sentencing.

She had argued on appeal that the murder was committed during a home invasion, and Tulloch should serve 40 years before parole.

Llewellyn cited the cases of Rasheme Mendez and Tio Bambrury, who committed murders in similar circumstances to that done by Tulloch, and the Court of Appeal had, in December 2014, affirmed their sentences of life imprisonment and 40 years before parole.

Tulloch was convicted in May 2011 of the murder of Deddrie Graham.

During the trial, the court was told that Tulloch and another man invaded the home of the Grahams in St Catherine on the night of March 23, 2006 and announced that they had come to kill.

They fired shots, injuring two of Graham's brothers, who ran and hid in the yard. Tulloch pointed a gun at the head of Graham and asked her where her brothers had gone before shooting her in the head.