PM to bring new law to deal with appeals
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November 17, 2006

PM to bring new law to deal with appeals

Acting Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Colin Williams, said his hands were tied and he could not appeal a recent sentence in a rape case.

But Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves signaled his intention to set him free.

Breaking his silence since rapist Alonzo Lewis walked on Monday October 16, Williams said he disagreed with the decision of High Court Judge Bruce Lyle St Paul to set free rapist Alonzo Lewis whom the jury found guilty of sexually molesting a 17-year old girl.{{more}}

The decision sent shock waves of disbelief throughout the country and was a topic of hot discussion and debate.

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT the acting DPP said that the law did not permit the Crown to appeal a High Court decision.

“Right now there is nothing we can do to appeal such a ruling,” he said. “In my view, the last decision of the Alonzo Lewis’ matter clearly breaches the guidelines of the Court of Appeal, I haven’t seen where the guidelines were followed.”

Williams explained that the Court of Appeal clearly stipulated that in rape cases the maximum penalty is eight years. If there are mitigating factors, the sentence can be reduced and conversely it could also be increased under aggravating circumstances, such as for repeat offenders or for the rape of a juvenile.

Williams said that the only way that an appeal could be made was legislatively. In other countries, the DPP has the right to appeal on sentences made in the High Court.

Prime Minister Gonsalves, used the opportunity of his speech at the annual convention of the Unity Labour Party Women’s Arm Sunday to announce proposed legislative changes.

“From next year that will change! I am going to bring a law so that the DPP could appeal a sentence handed down by a judge. They must realize that the power to make the law resides in a democratic Parliament and when I see things going awry a correction must be made.”

“I can’t do anything about that sentence because I’m not the judge but I could do something about the law so that if you make a mistake like that, the DPP could appeal against you and let the Court of Appeal tell us that you are right to only slap the man on the wrist for rape.”

He said these changes would signal to everyone in the country that they are “giving no space to criminals.”