‘Send brutal murderers to gallows’
September 11, 2009
‘Send brutal murderers to gallows’

It appears that the controversial issue of the death penalty will be one of the main selling points used by the constitutional reform committee to influence Vincentians to vote ‘Yes’ in the upcoming November referendum.{{more}}

Addressing several persons at South Rivers last Sunday afternoon at the commissioning of a new cemetery in that district, Chairman of the Constitutional Reform Committee (CRSC), Parnel Campbell, said he was attending the ceremony to launch the referendum campaign.

Campbell, a former attorney general here, said something stirred in him when he heard the news on Saturday, September 5, 2009, that persons who were convicted of the murder of Maurice Bishop (former Prime Minister of Grenada) and others had been set free. He said these persons had been sentenced to hang for the murders they committed. However, their sentences were commuted to life imprisonment.

“I do not know the circumstances and I have no quarrel with the government of Grenada, but it convinces me that the death penalty ought to mean what it says. Whenever a murder is committed in brutal circumstances and a court says that a man convicted of that murder should be spared because the crime was not the worst of the worst, it pains me,” said Campbell.

He explained that there are different murders committed such as the case with persons in the heat of passion, loss of temper, and drunkenness etc. “Those I could understand would have mitigating circumstances.

“But when a man sits down and plans to kill somebody else and thinks about it for days and plans how he is going to kill that person and then lay waits that person and kills the person deliberately in cold blood, that man in my view should hang,” said Campbell passionately to a loud round of applause from the gathering.

Campbell also made reference to the Bertie Browne murder in which the Privy Council in London commuted Daniel ‘Compay’ Trimmingham’s death sentence to life imprisonment on the grounds that his case was not the worst of the worst.

“When a man can go in the mountainside and meet a 65-year-old man, chop off his head, buss down his belly so that all his entrails spill out on the ground and is convicted of the murder and sentenced by the High Court Judge to hang, the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal says ‘No, that was a brutal murder this man should hang’.

“And then the man appeals to the Privy Council in London and they say well it was a bad murder but it was not the worst of the worst, the man should not hang. That offends me, and that is what happened in the Trimmingham’s case recently,” said Campbell adding that as a result of the Privy Council’s ruling in that case “you can’t hang anybody again in St.Vincent”.

“People who murder people right now in St.Vincent and the Grenadines and are convicted can do so in the knowledge that they will not be hanged. In other words, the Privy Council has abolished the death penalty in St.Vincent. You can’t hang again right now under the present law,” said Campbell.

He said under the new constitution there are certain sections that have been inserted which would allow Vincentians to bring back hanging here.

“And if there is one reason why we need the new constitution is to make sure that people who commit these brutal murders face the gallows,” said Campbell.

“As we have seen in Grenada yesterday, even when they are sent to prison for life in most times, they come out of jail as free men even before their life sentence is served,” said Campbell, adding that people shouldn’t deliberately take human life and live to enjoy yours as a free man.

“Unless you vote yes you better say goodbye to hanging.”

Campbell was not slated to make the address but asked permission to do so. He stated that he attended the programme in solidarity with his “friend and brother”, Prime Minister Gonsalves.

“As you know on the 25th of November the voters of this country will be called upon to vote either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the new constitution. We will be doing our best to convince our people that it is in their interest, in the national interest, to vote ‘Yes’,” said Campbell.

On Saturday, Bernard Coard, Callistus Bernard, Hudson Austin, Liam James, Leon Cornwall, John Anthony Ventour, Dave Bartholomew, Ewart Layne, Colville Mc Barnett and Selwyn Strachan walked free from prison in Grenada.

Their sentences were commuted to life in prison in 1991 and the British Privy Council, the highest court of appeal for the island, threw out those sentences in February 2007. The men have been in prison for periods ranging from five to approximately 26 years.