High Court Judge Jacqueline Cornelius has asked the State, including the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), to conduct an investigation into claims that six former condemned men who are to be resentenced remain on death row at Dodds Prison.
The matter was a talking point on Tuesday in the resentencing hearing of former condemned prisoner Clyde Anderson Grazettes after his attorneys, Queen’s Counsel Andrew Pilgrim and Sian Lange, informed Madam Justice Cornelius that their client was still on death row.
The judge heard that apart from Grazettes, five others are allegedly still being housed on the death row section of the St Philip facility, despite a previous Caribbean Court of Justice ruling that the mandatory death sentence in Barbados was unconstitutional.
“Mr Grazettes is at an area of the prison that he is told that this is death row and he is liable to be sentenced to death until the court orders the prison in a different way,” Pilgrim told the court as he urged Justices Cornelius to take a “hard look” at the 16 years that his client has spent on death row when resentencing.
Grazette, previous of St Stephen’s Hill, Black Rock, St Michael, had been sentenced to hang for murdering 18-year-old Roseanne Griffith between May 19 and 20, 2001. He has been on death row since 2006.
Pilgrim argued that his client continued to be under “a genuine threat . . . that this warrant” could be read.
But Justice Cornelius stated that “technically” all convicted persons who are on death row cannot be there.
“Literally nobody is on death row, because there is no death row. So far, the people who are currently sentenced to death have to be resentenced and cannot now attract the death penalty, so how is there a death row and anybody on it?” the judge questioned.
Pilgrim explained that the prison was still treating the convicted man as being under a death sentence until told otherwise.
He explained an actual process is needed from the judiciary, for persons on death row who are awaiting resentencing to be removed from that section of the prison.
“It requires either an order of the court, an exercise of discretion by the Chief Justice or some activity . . . to the prison, which acts only on documents to act in a particular way.
“The prison cannot take him off death row unless someone tells them to . . . . The court has to effect Section 2 of the [Amendment to the Offences Against the Person Act] and if it doesn’t, he (Grazettes) is on death row and that is how the prison is treating him from 2006 to present,” the Queen’s Counsel submitted.
With those submissions, Justice Cornelius said: “I would ask for it to be investigated.”
She also requested that attorney-at-law Neville Watson who was representing the State to make “representation with the DPP to make it clear that the death sentence is no longer on the table for persons who have been sentenced to death”. [email protected]