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Privy Council overturns conviction in Shirley Playfair murder

Published:Monday | October 22, 2012 | 7:44 AM

Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator

The United Kingdom Privy Council has set aside the conviction and sentence of 55-year-old secretary Annette Livingston who was convicted in 2003 of the murder of prominent Kingston attorney-at-law Shirley Playfair.

The Privy Council has granted the Crown 28 days to present arguments as to whether an order for a new trial should be made.

Co-accused Ramone Drysdale who had applied to Her Majesty in council for special leave to appeal had his application turned down.

However, because of financial hardships, Livingston had to seek legal assistance from lawyers in England.

It was argued before the Privy Council that some material irregularity took place at the trial because the prosecution failed to disclose vital information to the defence.

In April 2003, Livingston, of Buff Bay, Portland and Drysdale were convicted along with 61-year-old taxi driver Ashley Ricketts, also of Maxfield Avenue.

They appealed against their convictions and sentences and were successful in having their prison terms significantly reduced.

The Court of Appeal set aside Ricketts' murder conviction, substituted a manslaughter conviction and sentenced him to 20 years' imprisonment.

Livingston and Drysdale were each sentenced to life imprisonment with the Court of Appeal ordering that they should serve 35 years before parole.

Justice Kay Beckford, who presided at the trial in the Home Circuit Court, had sentenced them in 2003 to life imprisonment and recommended that Livingston serve 60 years before she was eligible for parole.

Beckford had also ruled that Drysdale should serve 55 years before parole; and Ricketts should serve 45 years before parole.

Ricketts had abandoned his appeal to the UK Privy Council.

Playfair was in her office at Seymour Avenue, St Andrew, on April 13, 2000, when men entered the office and slashed her throat.

Drysdale and 26-year-old Dwayne 'Amin' Williams, both of Metcalfe Road, Kingston 13, were the two men accused of using ratchet knives to cut Playfair's throat as she lunched at her desk.

Williams escaped from custody on April 22, 2002.

The prosecution led evidence that there was a common design to murder Playfair and that the three participated in the plan.

Ricketts had driven the men to Playfair's office and they were all held on Metcalfe Road about 45 minutes after the murder.

Frank Phipps, who represented Livingston in the Jamaican court had sought the assistance of John Perry, a Jamaican who practices in England to represent Livingston.