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Jamaican prisoner wins landmark parole case in Bermuda

Published:Monday | August 17, 2015 | 8:43 PM

A Jamaican who claimed his constitutional rights were infringed because he was not allowed to apply for parole after serving a third of a jail sentence has won a landmark victory in Bermuda's Supreme Court.

Leighton Griffiths was convicted in 2007 of importing 480 grams of cocaine hidden inside an air compressor.

He was initially sentenced to 14 years in prison but that was later reduced to 12 years by the Court of Appeal.

Earlier this year Griffiths, who is married to a Bermudian, launched a legal action against the state.

He argued that as a foreigner he was denied the opportunity to be released on license after serving a third of his sentence although he was otherwise qualified for such early release.

He also claimed that certain provisions of the Prison Act breached the section of Bermuda's Constitution that prevents discrimination on the grounds of place of origin.

In a written judgment, Chief Justice Ian Kawaley ruled in favour of Griffiths saying his constitutional rights had been infringed.

Bermudians and people with an unrestricted right to live and work in Bermuda are able to apply for release on licence in Bermuda after serving a third of their sentence.

Nationals originating from some countries are also able to obtain an early release because their governments have agreed to supervise them on their return to their countries of origin.

However, Jamaica has not agreed to accept prisoners released on license.