Sun | Jun 20, 2021

Two convicted of Playfair's killing head to the Privy Council

Published:Sunday | April 8, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Barbara Gayle, Staff Reporter

Almost nine years after she was convicted for the murder of prominent attorney-at-law Shirley Playfair, Annette Livingston, has finally been given the chance to have her appeal heard by the London-based Privy Council.

The 53-year-old Livingston, who was Playfair's legal secretary, will have her final court hearing on April 25.

The appeal has been held up for the last five years because she did not have the money to hire lawyers to represent her before the Privy Council.

However, local attorney Frank Phipps has contacted John Perry, a Jamaican practising in England and made a special request for him to assist Livingston with her appeal.

Perry, who was recently admitted to practise in Jamaica, has agreed to represent her pro bono (for free).

He will be instructed by the firm Dorsey and Whitney (Europe) LLP in London, which is also acting pro bono.

Phipps had represented Livingston at her trial and on appeal.

Perry, who is a past student of Rusea's High School, Hanover, will also be representing for free 33-year-old labourer Ramone Drysdale, of Maxfield Avenue, Kingston 13, who, along with Livingston, was convicted of Playfair's murder.

The Court of Appeal granted Livingston final leave in September 2006 to go to the UK Privy Council, Jamaica's final appellate court.

Livingston is contending that some material irregularity took place at her trial because the prosecution failed to disclose vital information to the defence.

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

Drysdale appealed against his sentence, while Livingston and Ricketts appealed against their convictions and sentences.

Livingston and Drysdale 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.

Sentencing

Livingston and Drysdale were each sentenced to life imprisonment but the Court of Appeal ordered 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 should 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 has 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 the three men were held on Metcalfe Road about 45 minutes after the murder.

barbara.gayle@gleanerjm.com