Queen’s Counsel Andrew Pilgrim has won a monumental victory over the Barbados Court of Appeal that gives him the greenlight to take an outstanding matter directly to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) for resolution.
In a landmark ruling on Wednesday, the CCJ gave Pilgrim the authority to “leapfrog” the local Court of Appeal and have a matter heard before the regional judicial tribunal.
The decision of the final appellate court was reportedly made due to the inordinate length of time it was taking the Court of Appeal to rule in the case of Omar Dacosta Holder.
Holder had been found guilty of the triple murders of 20-year-old Sakina Walrond, her three-year-old son Shaqkem Gittens and two-month old daughter Sha-Mya Mapp on March 31, 2005 and was sentenced to death by Justice Margaret Reifer in 2010.
However, Pilgrim appealed the sentence before the Court of Appeal in 2013, but has been unable to get a judgment since then.
In an exclusive interview with Barbados TODAY, Pilgrim said after listening to the case management of Omar Holder vs the Queen on Monday, the CCJ made a determination that the Court of Appeal, headed by president Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson and comprising Madam Justice Sandra Mason and Justice Andrew Burgess, by failing to make a decision had effectively rendered a decision.
Pilgrim said the CCJ treated the absence of a decision as if the Court of Appeal had affirmed the conviction and sentence.
He said the CCJ granted the appellant leave to appeal and file grounds.
The surprising ruling has come exactly two weeks after the outspoken attorney-at-law publicly criticized the Chief Justice and the Court of Appeal for the tardiness in handing down judgments.
What had also made the situation more complex was the fact that Madam Justice Mason now Dame Sandra Mason was after being elevated to the post of Governor General of Barbados, while Burgess was now himself a member of the CCJ, precluding either from issuing a judgment on the matter.
Pilgrim told Barbados TODAY he was delighted that his client was finally making some headway with his appeal.
He however, pointed out that it was also a bittersweet moment as they had wasted six years in trying to appeal Holder’s sentence.
“Obviously I am heartened by the fact that the CCJ takes this unique situation of having an appellant have to wait for six years or more for a decision, and waiting so long.
“So I’m really delighted that the CCJ is allowing Omar Holder the opportunity to move forward in his case and to have some sort of resolution eventually, because we know that the court ought not to take anything like six years to give its decision,” an upbeat Pilgrim said.
“So it’s as if virtually we have leapfrogged the Barbados Court of Appeal. So it’s our hope that we can file our documents now and basically begin the process anew, because we have wasted over six years waiting on the Barbados Court of Appeal which failed to do its job completely.”
Pilgrim said he would now have to file to have the matter heard before the Trinidad-based CCJ.