Cardinal Williams Appellant v The Queen Respondent [ECSC]

JurisdictionSt Vincent and the Grenadines
CourtCourt of Appeal
JudgeBYRON CJ,d'AUVERGNE JA (Ag.),SAUNDERS, JA (Ag),Suzie d'Auvergne,Sir Dennis Byron,Chief Justice
Judgment Date02 April 2001
Judgment citation (vLex)[2001] ECSC J0402-2
Docket NumberAPPEAL NO. 10 OF 1995
Date02 April 2001
[2001] ECSC J0402-2

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL

HIGH COURT CRIMINAL

Before:

The Hon. Sir Dennis Byron Chief Justice

The Hon. Ms. Suzie D'Auvergne Justice of Appeal (Ag.)

The Hon. Mr. Adrian Saunders Justice of Appeal (Ag.)

APPEAL NO. 10 OF 1995

Between:
Cardinal Williams
Appellant
and
The Queen
Respondent
Appearances:

Mr. J. Guthrie QC, Mr. K. Starmer and Ms. N. Sylvester for the Appellant

Dr. H. Browne and Ms. S. Bollers for the Respondent

BYRON CJ
1

I have read the judgments prepared by d'Auvergne J.A. (Ag.) and Saunders J.A. [Ag.]. They have both come to the conclusion that the conviction of murder should be quashed and that a conviction for manslaughter should be substituted. I think that the factual and legal issues have been set out in great detail. I find it unnecessary to repeat this exercise. I was impressed by both Dr. Eastman's and Dr. Mahy's testimony and conclude that that there is a likelihood that the jury could have adopted the views expressed by either of them. In those circumstances it would be open to the jury to return a verdict of manslaughter on the ground of the appellant's diminished responsibility. Additionally, both of my colleagues have noted that the appellant has been on death row since 1995, and concluded that in accordance with the Pratt and Morgan principle, the death penalty would not be imposed, whatever the final verdict. The expense and trauma of a retrial would be wasteful and meaningless. I agree that the conviction be set aside and a verdict of manslaughter be substituted. The issue of the subjective motives and the antecendents of the appellant was addressed in the technical evidence given before us, as was the issue of the gravity of the offence. I agree that we have received sufficient information to consider the mitigating factors and make a fair adjudication on the sentence.

2

I support the views expressed by d'Auvergne JA (Ag.) that mental condition of diminished responsibility is a mitigating factor as it tends to reduce the offenders responsibility for his behaviour in committing the offence.

Order
3

I would therefore order that the conviction be set aside and a conviction of manslaughter be substituted with a sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

d'AUVERGNE JA (Ag.)
4

By order of Her Majesty in Council dated 12 th July 2000 this appeal was remitted to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal for re-hearing. The reasons for remitting the case are contained in the judgment of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council dated 23 rd November 1998 and reflected in the order dated 16 th December 1998.

5

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in that judgment of 23 rd November 1998 rejected the original grounds of appeal against conviction of the appellant but had by an application for leave to tender new evidence in the form of a report by Dr. N.L.G. Eastman, a distinguished English forensic psychiatrist, who went to St Vincent and interviewed the appellant in prison for over five hours on 19 th February 1998, remitted the matter to the Court of Appeal to decide how to deal with Dr. Eastman's evidence. It was contemplated by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council that the appellant would be permitted to call Dr. Eastman to give evidence either at a new trial or before the Court of Appeal; that the said Dr. Eastman would be subjected to cross-examination and that other evidence could be called in rebuttal, for "their Lordships consider that Dr. Eastman's evidence is "likely to be credible" in the sense that it satisfies that test of being apparently credible, though it need not be incontrovertible" per Denning L J in Ladd v Marshall 1954 IWLR 1489 at page 1491.

History
6

On the 16 th day of November 1994 the appellant Cardinal Williams inflicted a fatal wound to the throat of his girlfriend, Caroline Moses, with a kitchen knife outside their house. The wound inflicted was a 5 1/2 inches jagged laceration to the right side of the neck, completely severing the strep muscles of her neck, carotid arteries, the windpipe the vagus nerves, the phrenic nerves, exposing the spinal cord between the C1 and C2 vertebrae. A post mortem examination revealed fifty-one other lacerations on different parts of her body. Almost immediately after, their two children ages five and two respectively, were found dead with their throats cut in separate rooms in the house.

7

On the 23 rd day of June 1995 the appellant was convicted of the murder of Caroline Moses and was sentenced to "Suffer death in the manner authorised by law". The appellant appealed from that conviction and sentence. This first appeal against conviction was dismissed by order of the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal dated 29 th January 1996 (Byron CJ Singh J & Matthew JA ag) The appellant by special leave appealed as a poor person to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The said Committee rejected the original grounds of appeal but remitted the matter as stated earlier, to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal to deal with Dr. Eastman's evidence.

8

The Court of Appeal received notice of the report made by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council on the 4 th December 1998 and was prepared to hear the matter on the 7 th December 1998 but counsel for the appellant was not ready and again on the 22 nd March 1999 Learned Counsel for the appellant informed the Court that Dr. Eastman's report was ready and filed but he would be unable to testify till July 1999.

9

At that juncture in the proceedings both the appellant and the respondent seemed to have rejected the option for a new trial and were prepared to have the testimony of Dr. Eastman tested, as was, Albert Matthew JA (ag). However the majority of the Court of Appeal treated the remitted appeal as an ordinary remitted appeal and having heard the submissions and read the report of Dr. Eastman which was treated "as evidence" dismissed the appeal for reasons contained in a judgment dated 25 th March 1999 Page 4 under the rubric. The Referral.

10

A summary of which reads as follows:

"…. Do not agree with reason given by the Privy Council…. The appellant proffered no reason or no evidence to their Lordships why Dr. Eastman was not called at the trial. The issue of diminished responsibility was live at the trial, a psychiatrist was available in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and in fact testified on behalf of the defence at the trial. I am satisfied that despite the so called indigence of the appellant as suggested by Lord Hoffman the reality of the situation was that with some diligence on the part of Counsel for the accused, the psychiatrist or even Dr. Eastman who presumably would have been available could have given the fuller relevant evidence at that trial. The transcript from the Privy Council does not show any evidence to justify the finding by Lord Hoffman of indigence of the appellant at the time of his trial. Indeed at his trial and before us, the appellant was represented by able Counsel."

That "Dr Eastman in his report sought to express an opinion on diminished responsibility of a killer at the time he committed the offence on an interview he had with the killer for the first time for some five hours and some four years after the crime was committed… the opinion he has expressed is more speculative than conclusive. He has based it purely on what the appellant told him viva voce and without any medical records. The opinion on what was told to him may be "likely to be credible" but the real question is whether what was told to him by the appellant was in fact credible. In his report he has accepted as true all the appellant told him. He then gave his opinion. The Privy Council in concluding that his evidence is "likely to be credible" by inference has also accepted that what the appellant told him was credible ………… Dr. Eastman's opinion was based on matters the credibility of which was not established and therefore was a mere academic opinion on those hypothetical facts."

At the hearing
11

On the 5 th of December 2000 a newly constituted Court of Appeal sat and heard the evidence of Dr. Eastman and Dr. Mahy. The evidence of Dr. Eastman discloses that he had an interview with the appellant at Kingstown Prison St Vincent on the 19 th of February 1998 lasting five (5) hours and fifteen (15) minutes and that on that same day he also had an interview with Dr. Debnath the psychiatrist who interviewed the appellant and gave evidence at the appellant's trial; that Dr. Debnath had told him that he had only assessed the appellant in terms of his mental state at the time of the assessment itself.

12

I pause here to note that at the trial Dr Debnath said "I was requested to look into two things, one his mental condition at that time, secondly his amnesia. The answer to the first question—his mental condition, I found him as mildly depressed. In regards to amnesia my opinion is that he was not suffering from any kind of amnesia. He was malingering."

13

Dr. Eastman having been sworn told the Court that he accepted his first report of 4 th June 1998 and his two later reports dated 29 th April 1999 and 6 th June 2000 respectively to be true and correct.

14

He then reiterated and emphasised certain aspects of his reports which are hereby noted.

The appellant told him about a noise at the back of his head that was "like a stick breaking": that he had never known his father though he had a step father who had been with his mother since he was three months old; that he described his mother as a very nice woman meek and gentle who died in 1985. That after the death of his mother who had been ill treated by his step father he went to live with his maternal aunt until her death; that he had lived for a short period with that aunt during his mother's lifetime after a severe beating from his stepfather. He described that aunt "as an angel"; that he was the fourth in the family, his eldest...

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