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Justice ‘denied’

by Barbados Today
4 min read

Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson and the Court of Appeal have come in for a tongue-lashing for their tardiness in handing down judgments.

The criticism has come from Queen’s Counsel Andrew Pilgrim, who says his client Omar Dacosta Holder has been waiting for six years for the Court of Appeal to give a ruling on his matter.

Holder had been found guilty of the triple murders of 20-year-old Sakina Walrond, three-year-old son Shaqkem Gittens and two-month old daughter Sha-Mya Mapp on March 31, 2005. He was sentenced to death by Justice Margaret Reifer in 2010.

Pilgrim said he subsequently appealed the sentence in 2013 before the Court of Appeal, which comprised Sir Marston, Sandra Mason and Andrew Burgess.

However, the irate attorney-at-law told Barbados TODAY, more than six years later they are still awaiting the judgment.

To make matters worse, Pilgrim said Madam Justice Mason had since become Dame Sandra Mason, Governor General of Barbados, while Burgess had been appointed to the Caribbean Court of Justice precluding either from issuing a judgment on the matter.

The outspoken defense attorney charged that there were at least two other cases involving Peter Barton and Winston Alexander, in which the Court of Appeal took more than five years to hand down a ruling.

“I am deeply disturbed about this case. I do not know how I can comment on this case without being extremely harsh and critical on the judiciary. Three judges sat on this case of Omar Holder, just as three judges sat on the case of Peter Barton and the case of Winston Alexander.

“Three of our judges in the highest court of our country, and none of them feels it is unfortunate to have people waiting on them for four, five and six years. This is an embarrassment that speaks to the state of our country and the state of our judiciary,” an annoyed Pilgrim told Barbados TODAY.

Pilgrim described the situation as a “national disgrace” and called on Prime Minister Mia Mottley and the executive arm of Government to institute punitive measures on those who are “foisting this injustice” on the people of Barbados.

Holder’s younger sister, Zandarine Holder told Barbados TODAY her brother was becoming increasingly frustrated with the long wait and called for something to be done.

“It is very long. The appeal was made since 2013 and he never hear anything about it. He has been telling us to go to the press, but we were ashamed to go to the press.

“He’s spent 14,15 years in jail already. Come with a decision. Make up your mind and say what you are going to do because 15 years is a lot of time. We want some sort of conclusion,” she maintained.

Pilgrim said Barton, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison for possession and trafficking of cannabis in 2009, was made to wait over five years before the Court of Appeal handed down a judgment.

He said Peter Williams, a member of the Court of Appeal, had criticized the court for the lengthy delay.

Williams charged that the President was tasked with the responsibility of writing the judgment or assigning a judge to do so therefore it was his ultimate responsibility to ensure a judgment was given.

“Imagine that in the case of Peter Barton, a member of this court finds themselves criticizing the very court that he is a part of and saying it is inappropriate, inadequate and criticizing it in the most harsh terms, yet they do nothing about it.

“They sit and give these judgments after this delayed period in Peter Barton, whilst that man was sitting in prison and then they bring him down and tell him he is free to go. If we cannot get judges to function at the Court of Appeal level how can we expect judges at the High Court to function? How do we expect magistrates to function?” Pilgrim questioned.

“This is a terrible example being set for everybody in the judicial system.”

Furthermore, the veteran attorney-at-law suggested that the Court of Appeal might need to be overhauled.

“This is the type of thing that suggests that we should clean house. It is very sad and I don’t want to be the one to have to make these comments all the time and I have to appear before this same very Court next week,” he said.

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