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Lovelace granted extension on time to appeal death penalty

Lovelace granted extension on time to appeal death penalty

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“One of the worst cases of murder in society,” as cited by a High Court Judge, and the culprit, who is the lone offender facing the hangman’s noose in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), may not face it for much longer.

A decision was taken at a sitting of the Court of Appeal yesterday that Patrick Lovelace should have an extension on the time within which he can appeal to the court against the death penalty verdict he had received previously.

The gavel, which had seemingly sealed the fate of death for the accused murderer, had sounded in 2010.

Justice Frederick Bruce-Lyle had handed down this ruling eight years after the crimes of rape, strangulation and murder of 12-year-old Lokeisha Nanton had been committed, and her body left hanging from a tree.

Justice Lyle, in his speech at the time, had made his belief clear: “I have no doubt at all in my mind that this is one of the worst cases of murder in society. I consider it as the worst of the worst. I am satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that this is a matter for which Mr Lovelace deserves the ultimate sentence. Any lesser sentence in my view would be inappropriate in all circumstances of this case.”

Lawyer for the appellant Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, who has been on a mission since 2014 and through multiple courts to have Lovelace’s death sentence appealed, made submissions to the Justices yesterday.

She was able to do this after the Privy Council, the highest court in the land, ruled that the Vincentian law excluding individuals on death penalty from applying for an extension of time to appeal was unconstitutional.

Bacchus-Baptiste submitted in court firstly that the case was “not the worst of the worst” and that the judge had not considered whether Lovelace had any possibility of rehabilitation.

She further submitted that the sentencing was not appealed within the 14 days by mistake of his counsel at the time and Lovelace had fully

intended to appeal the sentence, as well as the conviction.

Instead, the matter of sentencing was not brought up during the appeal. She stated that it was unfair that Lovelace “should have a death sentence over his head by a mistake of this counsel.” She also said the move was not a tactical one.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Collin Williams, in countering, stated “I have not seen sufficient explanation that accounts for the delay in a matter which, m’lady, was concluded in 2010.”

Chief Justice Dame Janice M Pereira, in response, stated that the “delay is one thing, but if the point in terms of merit is a strong one, then it would really overcome the point of delay.”

Pereira stated that the three Justices were unanimous in their decision to grant an extension for the appeal, after considering what is the worst of the worst and the point of rehabilitation, as canvassed in the relevant cases. She cited the situation as unusual and warned that it should not be taken as an indication that someone may first appeal against conviction and “go back later after being unsuccessful to appeal against sentencing.”

She gave Bacchus-Baptiste a week to file the appeal and stated that it must be done by January 22. Therefore, the appeal for the last convict on death row is set to be heard at the next sitting of the court in July, which may result, as it has done before for former death row inmate Daniel ‘Compay’ Dick Trimmingham, in the reversal of the death penalty.(KR)

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