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Brad Boyce case ends at Privy Council

Judgment reserved

by Darren Bahaw,
Saturday, November 5th 2005

AFTER TWO days of intense legal arguments the London-based Privy Council has reserved its decision in an appeal filed by the State in the controversial Brad Boyce case.

The ruling of the Privy Council will effectively determine whether the legislation which gave the Director of Public Prosecutions the right to challenge the decision of a High Court judge to withdraw a criminal case from a jury is constitutional or not.

The judgment of the Privy Council will affect several other criminal cases which are pending before the local Appeal Court.

In July 1998, High Court judge Herbert Volney directed a nine-member jury to return a not guilty verdict in favour of Boyce, who was on trial for unlawfully killing 19-year-old Jason Johnson in 1996.

The judge took the decision after he agreed to withdraw the evidence of forensic pathologist Dr Hughvon DesVignes from before the jury ruling that in the absence of the doctor's testimony there was not other evidence in the case relating to Johnson's cause of death.

Using the provisions of Section 65 of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act for the first time, the DPP appealed Volney's decision, claiming the judge committed an error in law, and sought to have Boyce face a retrial but the Appeal Court, comprising Justices Satnarine Sharma, Lionel Jones and Rolston Nelson, on November 30, 2001, declared the particular section of the Act unconstitutional and dismissed the State's appeal.

On February 1, 2002, the DPP got permission to take his arguments to the final appellate jurisdiction, the Privy Council, and five British law lords heard arguments in the case on November 2 and 3.

The State retained the services of English barrister Sir Godfray Le Quesne QC, who led English attorneys Howard Stevens and John Almedia while Karl Hudson-Phillips QC, led local attorneys Ravi Rajcoomar and his daughter Jennifer Hudson-Phillips for Boyce.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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