“If you are going to keep a man in prison you must know who he is,” attorney-at-law Andrew Pilgrim QC told the Court of Appeal today.
Pilgrim was before the Court on behalf of his client Midian Scantlebury, who is expected to appeal an extended stay in prison.
Scantlebury, of Westbury Road, St. Michael, was jailed for five years in April 1998 for wounding. His imprisonment should have ended in 2002 but he remained incarcerated for a further six and a half years, based on a sentence that was handed down to his identical twin brother Medan Scantlebury.
Medan had been given a longer sentence than Midian on a different matter, but he (Medan) was released earlier than his twin.
Pilgrim, along with attorneys Carol-Ann Best and Alexandria Thomas, was applying for an extension of time to file a notice of appeal since this had not been done within the specified time.
That Court of Appeal granted that extension today and the attorneys now have seven days in which to file.
The matter was heard and determined this morning by Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson and Justices of Appeal Sandra Mason and Andrew Burgess.
The intended appeal surrounds the issue of whether Scantlebury was wrongfully kept in prison under the belief that he was his twin brother.
That matter originally went before former High Court Judge Elneth Kentish, but was dismissed.
Pilgrim submitted to the Appeal judges that Scantlebury’s “constitutional right to be free” had been breached. He added that the Prison authorities knew the Scantleburys were an identical twin and even though that could present a challenge, they should have taken steps such as fingerprinting to ensure that the prisoner was the correct one.
Pilgrim stressed that the case was also one of “public interest.”
The senior attorney further explained that for more than a year, Scantlebury was unable to retain counsel based on financial reasons and that gave additional merit to the fact that the matter was one which involved “special enough” circumstances that it ought to be “fully adjudicated.”
The Crown was represented by Principal Crown Counsel Roger Barker and Crown Counsels Dawn Grant and Alison Burke.