The once prominent Baptist church leader, Archbishop Edmund Gilbert, who has had a death sentence reduced from life in prison to 18 years for the 2001 murder of 15-year-old Robby-Ann Jeremiah will have to wait until next year to become a free man.
Attorney-at-law Anselm Clouden was not successful in an application made to the Court of Appeal at a sitting in St. George’s last week for an early release of his client on the grounds of ill-health.
Gilbert was the Archbishop of the Unicorn Spiritual Baptist Church in Springs, St. George’s when he was apprehended and convicted for the murder of the teenager with whom he was allegedly having a sexual affair.
State Prosecutors were able to convince a judge and jury in December 2001 that Gilbert who was aged 60 at the time had strangled the young girl who had attended his church for years.
The Baptist leader was sentenced to death by hanging and joined two of his sons in jail, who according to reports were both serving prison sentences for rape.
Attorney Clouden was able to successfully appeal the death sentence, which was handed down on Gilbert by Vincentian attorney-at-law, Justice Othneil Sylvester who was on a brief stint as a high court judge on the island.
Gilbert’s sentence was reduced to 18 years imprisonment in 2006 by Justice Kenneth Benjamin.
The former Baptist Archbishop, who is now in his twilight years was seeking to appeal the 18-year sentence before the Justice of Appeal in order to get out of jail early.
Gilbert is said to be warded as a patient at the St. George’s General Hospital plagued with several medical complications including cancer.
His appeal was rejected by the Court of Appeal justices in their sitting on the island from May 28 – June 1, at the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office (CAIPO) building at Mt. Wheldale Gap, Upper Lucas Street in St. George’s.
Clouden made an application before the court seeking to appeal the sentence on grounds that when the matter was sent back to the High Court by the Privy Council, the presiding Judge, Justice Benjamin, in reducing the death sentence to 18 years, did not consider the 1-year that the Archbishop would have spent on remand.
However, the longstanding attorney was forced to withdraw his application as there is no point of law to support the argument given that it was the Court of Appeal that had sent the matter back to the High Court for reconsideration.
Attorney Clouden was advised that he would now have to take his contention to the Privy Council in London for consideration.
Robby-Ann Jeremiah was found dead on February 1, 2001 – her strangled body was dumped in the bushes above the Coast Guard base at True Blue Bay in St. George’s.
Gilbert, a retired government tax collector was often dubbed the “Spiritual Healer” of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Keith Mitchell.
He was arrested and charged after police traced a call telling them where to find the girl’s body to a phone used by him.