The May 2017 assizes concluded on Monday with the completion of only 19 out of 136 cases that were listed for trial.
Speaking with THE NEW TODAY on Tuesday, Crown Counsel in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Brandon La Touche sought to explain one of the lowest rate of cases heard in recent times during a session of the high court.
La Touche acknowledged that the completion rate for the May assizes was slightly lower than usual mainly due to the lack of sufficient court rooms or personnel to deal with the matters in only a three-month period.
“It’s only so much you could do in an assizes. It (is) impossible to try all the cases in such a short space of time,” said the Crown Counsel, who confirmed that the completion rate is usually in the vicinity of the “early to mid 20(s).”
Additionally, La Touche said that an additional 14 matters were completed during the session, “but are not listed as completed because the convicted persons have not been sentenced” by the court as yet.
These include a mixture of matters, 6, of which he said, were of a sexual nature, while the remainder comprised violent offenses such as previous harm and wounding.
According to the Junior State Prosecutor, these matters will be traversed to the September 2017 assizes for sentencing.
There are two high courts hearing criminal matters in the country – High Court No. 2, which is presided over by Guyanese-born female Justice, Paula Gilford and High Court No. 5, where the sitting judge is Trinidad-born male Justice, Shiraf Aziz.
In recent times, sexual offenses have dominated the Cause list and 63 of the cases on the May assizes lists were of a sexual nature, ranging from incest, sexual assault, rape and indecent assault.
Under the revised 2012 Criminal Code, cases of these nature carry a maximum penalty of 30 years imprisonment.
Monday’s final sitting at the No.2 High Court on The Carenage, ended with Justice Gilford imposing sentences on two persons for sexual crimes.
38-year-old Randy Courtney, who was arrested and charged with incest back in 2010, received a sentence of 2 years and 1 month out of a maximum penalty of 5 years.
The offense was committed against his 13-year-old niece, his sister’s daughter, who he resided with in the village of Richmond Hill in St. George’s at the time.
In addition, 63-year-old La Borie, St. George resident Joseph Wilson, who was charged with raping a seven-year-old boy in March 2010, was sentenced to spend the next 14 years behind bars after pleading guilty to the offense earlier this year.
Other sentences handed down during the May criminal session for crimes of a sexual nature involved 33-year-old Kade Richards of Mt. Gay in St. George, who received an 11-year sentence for Rape of a 16-year old female, while 34-year-old Laura Land, St. David resident Dwayne Charles, who was charged under the old law for having sexual intercourse with a 13-year old girl, received a sentence of 3 years and 10 months for the offense.