The island’s leading Criminal Attorney, Anslem Clouden has spoken out against the 70 and 80-year sentences recently handed down by High Court Judge Madam Justice Paula Gilford on murder convicts Alexander Robert Clack and Sheldon Bain.
Clouden who has appeared in the British Privy Council in criminal matters more than any other local attorney described the lengthy sentences as retributive rather than rehabilitative.
“It is my respectful view that the learned trial judge failed to follow certain sentencing guidelines that have been laid down by the Privy Council and also by the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal”, he told reporters.
“These sentences seem to be revengeful rather than rehabilitative or retributive”, he said.
According to the outspoken attorney, “the Privy Council in 2013, emanating from a case in Antigua, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Court of Appeal said that there should be consistency and certainty in the sentencing in this jurisdiction (but) Grenada has departed from that consistency.”
Clouden said, there is no other country in the English-speaking Commonwealth in which courts have handed down sentences with such longevity.
“I can find no precedent in the Commonwealth Caribbean, where such sentences have been handed down without the opportunity for parole or early remittance as the case may be,” he added.
The longstanding barrister-at-law appeared as the defense attorney for 34-year old murder convict, Alexander Robert Clack, who last February received a 70-year jail term for the death of his wife Nixiann Downes-Clack, 27, of Duquense in St. Mark.
Attorney George Prime represented 37-year-old Sheldon “Dutch” Bain who was earlier this month sentenced to 80 years for the role he played in the 2002 death of a female trafficker, Omelia Roberts of Belmont in St. George.
Clouden noted that the sentences handed down to the convicts are “determinate and not life sentences,” noting that “It cannot be said that such sentences is a deterrent or that it is rehabilitative because there is no hope of release to return into society a different person, well adjusted and rehabilitated.
“So the sentence is being punitive and I think it should be reversed,” he said, adding that “If life sentences were handed down at least there would (have) been an opportunity for review and release way under 40 years imprisonment.”
According to Clouden, appeals have since been lodged into both cases against Gilford’s ruling.
He expressed the view that while “not all cases are alike, all offences ought to be treated alike.”
He recalled the re-sentencing of the Bernard Coard gang of prisoners who were convicted for the 1983 murder of the leftist Prime Minister at Fort George.
“…Remember, there was a dispute as to whether they were sentenced for life, meaning their natural life and that was commuted and the Privy Council said they ought to be given a determinate sentence and having spent 25 years in prison they were sentenced to a determinate period – some spending 30 years, 27 years as the case may be.
“These men are out now,” he said, noting that “with respect to the sentences handed down on Clack and Bain, they would never be out.
“There is no legitimate expectation of release. If you follow the tenure of the sentences they would die in prison”, Clouden told reporters.
He is confident that the appeals would be successful and that both Bain and Clack with get an opportunity to return to society.
Clack is the father of a four-year-old daughter, while Dutch has a 14-year-old daughter, who only got to know him a few weeks before his sentencing hearing, which was held on March 11.