British national Alexander Robert Clack, who is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence for the brutal murder in June 2014 of his 27-year old wife, Nixiann Downes-Clack of Duquense, St. Mark, is appealing against the incarceration.
Attorney-at-law Anslem Clouden appeared for Clack when the Court of Appeal met on the island during the week of May 28 – Friday June 1.
The matter came up for status hearing on May 28 and Clouden told the Justices of Appeal that he was not ready to proceed due to problems with the official transcripts from the high court.
The long-standing barrister informed the court that due to a shortage of stenographers to prepare the transcripts of proceedings, he was seeking permission to retaining a private stenographer to do the necessary work in order to proceed with the appeal when the appellate court returns to the island sometime in October.
Clack was convicted for Non-Capital Murder in connection with his wife’s murder and Guyana-born high court judge, Madam Justice Paula Gilford imposed a sentence of 67 years and 6-months on him on February 22, 2016.
When attorney Clouden was approached by THE NEW TODAY for an interview on the Clack appeal, he said that the sentence was being appealed on “multi-faceted grounds” but did not go into specifics.
Attorney Clouden expressed grave concern with the impact that the shortage of stenographers has, especially on appeal cases, also noting that the British High Commission in Barbados has been consistently checking up on Clack’s case.
“We have a serious problem in the court system in Grenada, especially, at the appellate level…a shortage of stenographers to prepare the transcripts so that appeals can be heard,” he said.
“We have here in Grenada right now, appellants who have served their time pending an appeal and the appeal is not yet heard”, he added.
Referring to it as a “grave miscarriage” of justice, the seasoned attorney called on government to employ at least 3 or 4 qualified stenographers in an effort to address the problem.
“We only have one stenographer and we need a number of stenographers”, he remarked.
Clack and his deceased wife had a 2-year old daughter when the tragedy occurred.
The British man was 32 years old at the time when he admitted to killing her and dumping her body in a small suitcase and burying it in a shallow grave on the hilltop of Mt. Moritz in St. George.
THE NEW TODAY contacted acting Attorney General, Dr. Lawrence Joseph last Friday for comment on government’s failure to hire enough stenographers to properly mann the court system.
According to Dr. Joseph, while there are persons being targeted for the job, there is another issue pertaining to salaries to be paid to them.
“The issue was discussed with the (Supreme Court) Registrar (and) we have people with the particular skills…we were negotiating with at least two of them to attract them with certain salaries and so on, for them to come into the picture but I don’t know what is the status of it right now”, he said.
“That’s the approach that we are taking because there are people here (right) now who (have) the skills but their salaries need to be upgraded,” he added.
THE NEW TODAY has been told by some lawyers that the lack of stenographers are causing long delays in their clients getting justice at the level of the Court of Appeal.
Over the years, the Keith Mitchell-led government has built up a reputation as not being friendly with the judiciary based on several matters ruled against it by high court judges and Justice of the Court of Appeal.