Barbara Gayle, Staff Reporter
A murder convict who challenged the Parole Board's refusal to give him reasons for turning down his application for parole was successful on Friday in getting a declaration in his favour.
The declaration, which was agreed between lawyers for the murder convict and the Parole Board, now paves the way for the board in refusing an application for parole to give a summary of the contents of the documents considered and reasons for its refusal.
K.D. Knight, Q.C., and attorneys-at-law Akilah Anderson and Jacqueline Wilcott, who represented the applicant Paul East, argued that it was unfair not to give reasons for turning down an application for parole. They said that would affect an applicant's position to improve his chances when he made another application.
The lawyers described the refusal by the Parole Board to give reasons as unfair and a breach of the rules of natural justice.
The Parole Board had contended that it did not have a duty to give reasons and the Parole Act did not make provisions for that.
East was convicted of a knife murder in 1993 and sentenced to life imprisonment.
The judge recommended that he should serve 12 years before he could be eligible for parole. East applied in July 2005 for parole but, up to August 2006, he got no response from the Parole Board. He then sought the assistance of his lawyers.
The lawyers wrote to the Parole Board, which replied two months later, turning down East's application. The lawyers asked the Parole Board for its reasons and subsequently applied for a declaration from the Judicial Review Court.
Last week, the Parole Board responded saying it now has a new policy which allows it to give reasons for refusing an application. Reasons were given for refusing East's application, but his lawyers said the bases were not sufficient.
When the motion came for hearing before the Judicial Review Court on Friday, East's lawyers and attorney-at-law Amina Macknoon, who represented the Parole Board, arrived at an agreement for a declaration.