Sexual offences are once again dominating the list of cases for the September sitting of the high court, which officially began on Tuesday.
A total of 62 sexually-related cases, comprising 34 for rape, 11 for incest and 17 for offences of sexual intercourse with children are in the Cause List for hearing before the two high court judges hearing criminal matters on the island.
These figures represent a reduction of 43 in sexual offence cases this year as compared to 75 that were on the 2015 list.
There are 145 matters before the current sitting of the court, comprising 37 new cases and 108 traversed cases down for adjudication in the new law year.
The new sitting of the high court was commemorated during a special sitting of the Court that was simultaneously held in all member states and territories of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
The list of cases for the assizes also includes 37 persons held on Remand at the Richmond Hill prison awaiting trial for several varying crimes comprising 17 indicted for homicide, 4 for manslaughter, 8 for murder, and five for death by reckless dangerous driving.
THE NEW TODAY understands that there are a total of 28 inmates in prison for offences such as arson, robbery, stealing by reason of employment, drug offences and firearms.
Senior Crown Council, Howard Pinnock told THE NEW TODAY in an interview Tuesday that this September assizes is recording the “highest number of cases since 2006.”
He pointed out that 19 out of the 145 cases listed are dated between 2008 and 2013, comprising 1 dating back to 2008, another in 2010, since 2011, 4 since 2012, and 11 dating back to 2013, while the remainder of cases falls between 2014 and 2016.
Speaking on the figures of the September assizes during a special sitting of the Supreme Court on Tuesday to mark the opening of the assizes, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Christopher Nelson, QC, said the increase poses a “serious challenge” as there are only 2 criminal judges on island.
The Office of the DPP has also noted with concern that approximately 7 lawyers out of the growing legal profession in the country are practicing criminal law.
The bulk of lawyers are mostly involved in civil cases with DPP Nelson QC noted the importance for persons who find themselves in trouble with the law to have legal representation, adding that this is posing a challenge due “to the very small and dwindling criminal Bar.
“It makes the task difficult,” he added.
DPP Nelson expressed the hope that his department along with the lawyers would work closer in the new Law Year to find a way to work around the busy schedules in terms of the listing at the courts, private and civil engagements, to give the criminal work some attention.”
The September assizes opened in conjunction with the new 2016/2017 Law Year, which marks the Golden anniversary of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.