Sun | Feb 5, 2023

Robbery convicts seeking cut in sentences lose appeal

Published:Tuesday | January 24, 2023 | 4:13 PM
The court ruled that the sentences were not manifestly excessive.

Three appellants who waited for 11 years before their case was tried in the Gun Court have failed in their bid in the Court of Appeal to get discounts on their sentences for constitutional breach.

In dismissing their appeal on Monday, the court said: “no evidence having been put forward by the appellants to account for the delay in the hearing of the trial, it could not be determined by this court that there was a breach of the appellants' constitutional rights to a fair trial within a reasonable time.”

Tara Ball, who was a 17-year-old student when the offences were committed in 2008, had appealed along with construction workers Marvin Alexander and Richard Scarlett against their convictions and sentences.

They were convicted of illegal possession of firearm and robbery with aggravation.

Alexander and Scarlett, of Portmore, St Catherine, were each sentenced to a total of 11 years and seven months' imprisonment for the offences while Ball was sentenced to 11 years and three months.

A taxi driver had testified that about 2 p.m. on July 3, 2008, he received a call from a woman for a charter for 11:45 p.m. from Debbie Avenue in Edgewater in Portmore, St Catherine.

When he went to the location, he saw a woman and three men.

The woman, who he later identified as Ball, waved at him and she and the three men, two of whom were Alexander and Scarlett, entered his taxi.

Ball sat in the front while the men sat in the back seat.

Ball said they were going to Norbrook, St Andrew.

The taxi driver said that when he got to Norbrook Drive, he felt a blow to the back of his head and that one of the men pointed a gun to his face.

He further testified that Ball pulled up the handbrake of his Toyota Corolla motor car and that he was dragged from the vehicle by the men.

He said he was placed face-down on the ground.

He said he heard his vehicle driving off and subsequently he stopped a police car and made a report.

While he was at the Constant Spring Police Station in St Andrew, the three appellants were brought in and the taxi driver said he identified them.

The appellants denied committing the offences.

They were convicted in June 2019 of the offences and sentenced.

They filed several grounds of appeal but the court upheld submissions from Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn KC and Crown Counsel Anna-Kaye Scott that there was ample evidence in support of the visual identification of the appellants.

The court found that the complainant had sufficient opportunity to observe the appellants, therefore, the identification evidence was sufficient and reliable.

The court ruled that the sentences were not manifestly excessive and must commence from the time of sentencing in 2019.

- Barbara Gayle

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