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Paedophile Fires Lawyer, Appeal Delayed Again

By LAMECH JOHNSON Tribune Staff Reporter ljohnson@tribunemedia.net CONVICTED paedophile Andre Birbal fired his lawyer yesterday, which led to another delay in his appeal against the conviction and sentence handed down to him last year. Birbal is now scheduled to return to court May 21 with a new court-appointed attorney. The former art teacher informed the court of his decision about 10 minutes into the hearing, after it became clear the convict was not satisfied with the way it was going. The hearing started off tense, with Justices Anita Allen, Stanley John and Abdulai Conteh asking Mr Butler why he had filed his arguments late, on March 9, when he had an entire month to prepare. The attorney attempted to blame the number of cases on his agenda, but Justice Allen, the Court of Appeal President, said: "I do not care. Once you take on a case, you have to be prepared to do what is necessary." Vinette Graham-Allen, director of public prosecutions, told the justices her team had been affected by the tardiness of the defence, but was prepared to proceed regardless. However, when Mr Butler introduced the basis for appeal, Birbal spoke up and was given a chance to deliberate with his lawyer. After the discussion, Mr Butler said: "Having consulted with my client, Mr Birbal's wish is that he be assigned other counsel on his behalf." When Justice Allen gave Birbal a chance to speak, he said Mr Butler had not met with him since their last appearance in court on February 6. "Counsel had sent two of his associates to visit me since the last meeting and we discussed three of the grounds for appeal," he said. Birbal said he gave Mr Butler's colleagues documents and asked that they add several grounds of appeal, but none of this material had been used. "I sympathise with the stress (Mr Butler) has, but I do not think he is fit to represent me," Birbal said. The former teacher, who was convicted in the Supreme Court in January 2011 of having unnatural sex with two juvenile boys, is seeking to have the higher court overturn the ruling. He is also appealing against his 15-year sentence on one count, and the 20-year sentences on five others.

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