Hike sentence

High Crime Rate Leads Court To Impose Long Sentence For Double Murder Convict | New

The crime crisis facing Jamaica has angered some judges so much that they tossed the book on a double murder convict, imposing the maximum sentence.

In July, the Court of Appeal ordered that Rayon Williams must serve 45 years before being eligible for parole for his second murder conviction.

“There must be tough sentences for convicted murderers who use guns to kill and have no respect for the lives of others,” a judge said. The Sunday Gleaner Last week.

Another judge said that once there were no mitigating factors, long sentences should be imposed.

But barrister John Clarke, who represents Williams on appeal, said he is taking the matter to the UK Privy Council, Jamaica’s final court of appeal, because he believes there have been highly unusual events in the two cases involving his client.

Clarke pointed out that the second case should have been remanded for trial by a jury based on new evidence presented on appeal. He also revealed that the judge who convicted Williams in his second trial was later appointed to the Court of Appeal and that judge sat on Williams’ appeal against his first conviction, which would not have should not have happened.

The attorney noted that the murders, which took place in September 2009 and December 2010, had the same eyewitness testifying in both cases.

In its decision on the matter, the Court of Appeal said that it considered that there was an element of premeditation and that an illegal firearm had been used in the commission of the offence. The court found that the offense itself was an act of extreme violence and referred to the gratuitousness of the killing.

“We identified two aggravating factors: the prevalence of gun crime in general and gun murder in particular, and a prior murder conviction. These factors would add 15 years to the theoretical sentence, which would give a period of 50 years before parole eligibility,” the court noted.

“Similarly, we have identified the appellant’s age (just under 28), his gainful employment at the time of his arrest and a dependent as mitigating factors. We assigned them the arithmetic value of five years, thus reducing the period to be served before eligibility for parole to 45 years.

The sentence is deemed to have started on June 26, 2014 and must run at the same time as the other sentence being executed.

Williams was first convicted by a jury in March 2013 of the murder of Hugh Cover in Spanish Town, St Catherine, in September 2009. After Cover was beaten by men and punched in the head, Williams used a sword to slit Cover’s throat while he “laid flattering on the floor like a fowl”, the witness said.

The witness further testified that Williams ordered one of the men “to finish removing the head” and that it was done.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to serve 35 years before he could be granted parole. The Court of Appeal upheld the conviction and sentence and ruled in May 2017 that the sentence should run from March 27, 2013.

NEW EVIDENCE

In the second case, Williams was convicted by a jury in June 2014 of the murder of Geraldo Campbell, who was shot and killed in his Oxford Road shop in Spanish Town, St Catherine, on December 18, 2010.

It was admitted at trial that the eyewitness and the appellant knew each other and had last spoken to each other the day before the incident.

The witness said that on the night of the incident, she saw Williams and a man named Maragh walking together. Williams went to the store and fired two shots before leaving with Maragh.

Williams gave an unsworn statement that the witness accused him of stealing his gun. He called a relative who supported the unsworn statement that the witness was telling lies that he had committed the offence.

The parent said she and the witness were together when they heard explosions and both went to the store. The relative said the witness had asked him some time before to find out from Williams if he had taken his gun.

Williams had sought to produce new evidence for the hearing of his appeal on dates from October to December 2021, on the grounds that false evidence had been given at his trial by the eyewitness.

In the recanting affidavit, the only eyewitness who testified at both trials claimed that her testimony at the second trial was false and that she was instigated by the police who put her “under a lot of pressure”.

She said she wanted to “empty her mind and be at peace with God” because she had given her life to Jesus Christ and asked for his forgiveness.

The witness testified in her October 30, 2018 affidavit that she did not write the story letter that was entered into evidence, but was coerced into signing it. She stated, among other things, that she was writing on behalf of the appellant, whom she had sent to prison for two life terms. She said a policeman told her to say the caller had fired because he was a sector chief and they wanted to get him off the street. The police promised to set up a “big bond” for her.

She admitted making the false statement because she was afraid of the police, because they had killed her two sons, and she feared they would harm her.

She explained that she had to move to various addresses after the trial because threats had been made against her by people who insisted that she reconsider her testimony.

Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn, KC, and prosecutors Tamara Merchant, Camelia Larmond and Cindi-Kay Graham disputed the witness’s alleged recantation. The Crown presented its own new evidence contained in an affidavit filed by the witness on October 20, 2021 in which she says she was threatened.

The witness, in her oral testimony before the Court of Appeal, said that she recanted because of threats, but that the testimony she gave at trial was true. She said the caller had her phone conversation with a member of the St Catherine-based One Order Gang during a three-way chat, and that she was threatened with violence and death if she did not follow their instructions .

Llewellyn argued that the contents of the repudiation documents supported the claim that the witness was coerced and threatened by agents of the appellant to recant.

There were challenges to the handwritten letter. The Crown handwriting expert said the letter was not written or signed by the witness; so it was a fake. The appellant’s handwriting expert, however, testified that the signatures on the letter were authentically those of the witness.

The Court of Appeal said the witness, in her oral testimony, contradicted herself when the court asked her if she had signed the letter and stated that she “did not write, sign or nothing to do with it”.

A justice of the peace said the witness signed the letter in his presence. The court said he believed she had done so, “there was no valid reason why she had not signed it, in his presence”.

NO CREDIBLE TESTIMONY

Commenting on the handwriting issue, the court said: ‘It should be noted that both experts concluded that there was tracing or overwriting in relation to the handwritten letter. They both agreed that crushing goes to intent. In the opinion of the Crown’s expert, this was the intention of the forger, whereas, in the opinion of the appellant’s expert, it was the intention of the witness. On the contrary, the conflicts in the conclusions of the two experts are so profound that we prefer to consider their testimonies in the context of all the other evidence.

Clarke maintained that there was no satisfactory explanation from the witness for his delay in reporting the alleged threats until about six years later.

He said the new Crown evidence was contrived and further affected the credibility of the witness and the reliability of his testimony.

The court ruled that after hearing the testimony of the eyewitness and that of several other witnesses, “we are of the opinion that the alleged presentation is incapable of belief. The witness’s testimony supported the evidence in the repudiation papers that she was forced to recant due to intimidation and the threat of personal violence against her. The integrity of the new evidence was also compromised by inconsistencies in the supporting evidence”.

The court’s decision was that there was no credible evidence to refute the witness’ assertion “that the evidence she gave against the appellant at trial was the truth, we believe the new evidence of the appellant is unable to believe and that his admission is not necessary or expedient in the interests of justice”.

The court added that the additional new evidence did not support a conclusion that the retraction was voluntary, genuine and trustworthy.

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