A total of 135 criminal cases are listed for adjudication during the April assizes, which opened on April 5th at High Court No. 2 on The Carenage in St. George’s.
Sexual related offences continue to dominate the assizes, with 75 matters consisting of rape, carnal knowledge, incest, and indecent assault.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Senior Crown Counsel, Howard Pinnock expressed concern with the increase in sexual related crimes, which stood at 55 for the just concluded January assizes.
Pinnock said it is very rare that the alleged perpetrator is a stranger to the victim. He noted that most of the offences are committed against under-aged individuals and involve perpetrators who are closely related to the victims, friends of the family or persons from the village.
A matter of interest to be dealt with during this term of the assizes is the case of Police Corporal Lennard Benjamin popularly known as “Benjie, who was in September 2014 charged with rape, incest and indecent sssault involving his step daughter.
Other sexual related matters include Cassius Batson, who faces 4 counts of rape and Hayden Phillip, a former prison escapee who is facing charges of attempted rape and robbery with violence.
Other matters on the cause list include murder, drug related offenses, offenses against property which includes forgery, stealing by reason of employment, and burglary; non-fatal offences against the person such as grievous harm, and maiming, among others.
High Court Judge, Madam Justice Paula Gilford, who presided over the opening ceremony, said it is the objective of the Court to have matters dealt with “fairly and efficiently.”
The female Judge used the opportunity to thank the jurors, lawyers, Probation Unit, and the Supreme Court Registry for the professional execution of their duties to the court.
She also urged lawyers to notify their clients of the appropriate time to enter a guilty plea, in the interest of saving time and encouraged the media to refrain from reporting news that would send the wrong message about the judicial system in the country.