By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A CONVICTED paedophile has been given an ultimatum for his appeal to start - with or without an attorney.
Andre Birbal was told by appellate court judges yesterday the hearing would be on July 26 at 10am.
This was the ultimatum given to Birbal by court president Justice Anita Allen following Jiaram Mangra's application to withdraw as Birbal's attorney.
Justice Anita Allen granted the request after hearing Mr Mangra's reason for making the application and let Birbal know what would happen going forward.
She said: "We're not going to adjourn this matter. This is the last adjournment. We're going to give you the last week in July. You either come here with an attorney or you come to represent yourself. We're not going to assign you an attorney at the public's expense.
"This appeal was filed in January 2011. This matter has been here 18 months. I'm sure you know all the evidence against you."
The former arts and computer design instructor was convicted by a jury in January 2011 of having sexual intercourse with two of his male students from Eight Mile Rock School.
He was sentenced to 35 years in prison by Justice Hartman Longley days after his conviction.
Since then Birbal has appeared before the appellate court on more than five occasions.
This year, on March 12 during the start of his substantive appeal, Birbal fired court-appointed attorney Craig Butler because Mr Butler had not presented the grounds of appeal to the court he wished to have argued.
Mr Butler, on request of Birbal, asked to have himself removed from the case as he felt he could not properly appeal the case if his client did not have faith in him.
Then on May 21 it was revealed that Jiaram Mangra was to represent Birbal. Birbal though was not satisfied with the appointment, asking for the services of Wayne Munroe.
He nonetheless accepted Mr Mangra's services and the case was adjourned to June 7 for the substantive hearing.
Yesterday, at the start of the proceeding, Mr Mangra told the appellate judges that he was encountering a 'fundamental difficulty' arguing the appeal.
He said he followed standard protocol in filing submissions and arguments to the court.
"Mr Birbal however, has some very serious issues and views on grounds which he wishes to have argued," he said.
"And so I find myself in the difficult position to be his mouthpiece to argue grounds I do not believe are arguable. And so in the interest of justice, and in fairness, he may then have to argue the appeal himself.
"I seek leave to be relieved of duty," he concluded.
Before he took his seat, Mr Mangra told the judges that his soon to be ex-client 'wished to have additional time to have access to full trial transcripts to present the appeal on his own.'
Birbal told the court his attorney had indicated his uneasiness about arguing the appeal, but said yesterday's proceedings were the first time the attorney ever mentioned that the arguments he presented to him were not arguable.
"I would like sufficient time to get counsel at the cost of my own expenses," Birbal said.
He was interrupted with a question by the appellate court president.
"Are you financially able to instruct counsel?" she asked.
He went on to explain his situation but the judge said: "I don't want to know the details. Are you financially able to instruct counsel?"
Justice Stanley John asked the appellant how soon he would be able to know whether his finances worked out to hire an attorney.
"In two months' time," said Birbal.
Justice John said: "Assuming that things do not materialise, do you realise you will have to argue this yourself? Are you prepared to do that?"
Justice Abdulai Conteh told Birbal he should 'be fair to yourself and the system,' adding: "The court has been tolerant as you can see, from the first occasion you came before us."
Justice Allen then said there would be no further adjournments past July 29.
Birbal must come to the Charlotte House courtroom with an attorney paid from his own money, or come prepared to represent himself. He was not granted bail.