The Supreme Court of Grenada is determined to address the backlog of criminal matters in the current session of the Criminal Assizes, which started on Tuesday with 89 cases on the cause list.
Crown Counsel in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, Howard Pinnock told members of the media that the court is determined to address the backlog of cases from previous sessions.
Sixty-six of the cases on the cause list have been traversed from the January Assizes.
Pinnock said both High courts will give some priority to murder cases on the list.
Seventeen of the cases are for murder.
He disclosed that one of the murder cases that would definitely take place during the assizes is the one involving Kevin Morris of Mt. Moritz, St. George’s, who is accused of causing the death of 60-year old St. George’s businesswoman, Marjorie Laurian Redhead, proprietor of Lourina Tiles & Lights.
The matter is scheduled for High Court Number One, which is presided over by Justice Margaret Price-Findlay.
Cases of a sexual nature continue to be dominant on the cause list. Thirty of those cases make up the bulk of matters down for hearing. Of the 30 sexual offenses matters, 12 are for rape, and three of incest.
With sexual offenses continuing to be of concern, Pinnock was asked to respond to widespread sentiments being expressed among the public that the court is not sending a strong enough message when it comes to sentencing the perpetrators.
The Crown Counsel indicated that while he cannot speak on behalf of the judges, he is aware that in the sentencing process, the judges can only apply the law, as well as take into consideration a number of factors.
He noted that if the offender has no previous conviction, the judge cannot impose the maximum sentence on the accused.
The maximum sentence for rape is 30 years.
Pinnock believes the media has a role to play in leading the charge of public education on the operations of the local courts.
“The media must be able to disseminate information to the public and demystify the court process. That is the role of the media,” he said.
On the cause list are 17 non-fatal offenses against persons that relates to maiming, dangerous harm and grievous harm.
The list also includes four cases of arson, a number of housebreaking and stealing, stealing by reason of employment, dishonestly receiving, and drug offenses.
Matters of stealing by reason of employment appears to be gaining prominence, but the Crown Counsel indicated that it is not yet significant in the local jurisdiction.
He described it as a crime of opportunity, which in itself is being dishonest.
“There are persons, for whatever reason may want to take a chance (to steal from the workplace) and indulge in the offense,” he remarked.
Previously, the maximum penalty was seven years imprisonment for stealing from one’s place of employment, but now that the Criminal Code has been amended, it was increased to a term in prison not exceeding 20 years.
With respect to the crime of dishonestly receiving, persons committing the offense could have been sentenced to 14 years imprisonment – the same punishment as the individual who committed the crime.
The penalty for the offense has now been increase to up to 20 years jail time at Richmond Hill.