Over 340 sexual offences cases

Senior deputy DPP urges more focus on prosecution of offenders

BY TANESHA MUNDLE
Observer staff reporter
mundlet@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

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In light of the high number of sexual offences matters before the Home Circuit Court, Senior Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Jeremy Taylor yesterday called for more focus to be placed on the investigation, prosecution and punishment of sexual offenders.

“It is true that while murder is very serious because it involves the taking of a life, the number of sexual offences cry out for attention by our policymakers also. I say that to say initiatives and drive that are put into murders and gang cases should also be put into the investigation, prosecution and punishment of these sexual offenders,” Taylor said during his brief address at the opening of the Hilary Term.

The senior prosecutor's call was spurred by the 342 sexual offences cases which are booked to be dealt with during this term, including 189 rape cases; 76 cases of sexual intercourse with a person under 16 years of age; 24 buggery cases; nine cases of grievous sexual assault; seven sexual touching cases; and five cases of child pornography.

The combined sexual offences cases are however led by 556 cases of murder, which Taylor dubbed the “emperor of iniquity”.

In the meantime, the senior deputy director of public prosecutions said, based on the nearly 1,000 cases which are to be heard, the use of court time and expedition of justice is now the rallying cry.

“How is that we can get these cases tried and how is it we can deliver justice and law timely and to the high standards of law?” he asked.

Taylor pointed to a number of legislative enactments that will help with the quick progression of some of the cases. This includes the 2015 amendment to the Criminal Justice Administration Act, which provides up to 50 per cent discount in sentences for individuals who plead guilty, and the Criminal Justice Plea Negotiations Act in which both the defendant and the prosecution can negotiate how the matters are handled.

In dealing with the movement of trials, he pointed to the agreement of statements under the Evidence Act, which allows for statements that are unchallenged by both parties to be read into evidence.

“And where it has been utilised, trial lengths have been considerably reduced,” said Taylor, who noted that the prosecution is ready to assist in the timely delivery of justice, especially in cases where the evidence is weak.

Meanwhile, senior high court judge Justice Carol Lawrence-Beswick yesterday disclosed that a standby list is being developed, from which short-term trial cases will be selected when matters being tried end prematurely, or when a case that is scheduled to start fails to get under way.

The standby list, she said, will work alongside the trial date. “That is, when a case is actually set for trial it is expected to be certain to start and that it will not be put off as a result of other cases being on the list or other cases taking priority. So the focus is to have fewer cases set on each date so that the cases that are listed will have certainty that on the date they are listed there will be a trial,” she said.

Justice Lawrence-Beswick said the trial date certainty started last year and so far the statistics show that the Supreme Court has a 78 per cent success rate, although the target is 95 per cent.

A total of 996 cases are listed to be dealt with in the Hilary Term, which runs from January to April.

However, it must be noted that the majority of the cases set for the new term are matters that have been transferred from the previous Michaelmas Term, and of the nearly 1,000 cases only 21 matters are new, including 16 murders.


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