By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
BEFORE scheduling a new date for the appeal of a former policeman convicted of beating a detained man to death, Court of Appeal judges scolded attorneys for filing documents late.
Appellate Court president Justice Anita Allen said the practice of handing documents to the court on the morning of hearings is simply “unacceptable”.
“This is unacceptable and it happens too often,” the judge said. “In every case, we have submissions being handed over on the morning of the hearing,” she said, noting that this prevented the court from being adequately prepared to hear matters.
“We are tired of it,” she said.
Donovan Gardiner, who was convicted of the manslaughter of Desmond Key, appeared in the Court of Appeal yesterday with his attorney Wayne Munroe for the substantive hearing to appeal both the manslaughter conviction and sentencing.
Gardiner, a 39-year-old married father of two, stood trial in the Supreme Court for the January 19, 2008, death of Desmond Key, who died of pancreatitis at Princess Margaret Hospital.
Key had been in hospital for seven months after being beaten with a baseball bat in a holding cell at the Grove Police Station on June 17, 2007.
Gardiner stood accused of hitting the detainee in the head and side with the wooden bat.
On March 2, after two weeks of trial, a nine member jury found him guilty of manslaughter.
Immediately after the 6-3 verdict was handed down, defence attorney Wayne Munroe indicated his intent to file a constitutional motion seeking to have the conviction quashed.
At a hearing on March 20, Mr Munroe argued that the trial had not been fair because the prosecution did not disclose Key’s complete medical records and other documents important to the defence.
He asked the judge to publicly declare that the prosecution had breached her March 2011 order to produce complete medical records and throw out the conviction.
However, Gardiner’s application to quash the conviction was thrown out by Justice Vera Watkins on the grounds that it was filed at the wrong time.
On June 28, 2012, Gardiner was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment, to run from the date of conviction.
However, the former corporal filed an appeal and in his March 27, 2013 appearance before the appellate court, he received a May 16 date for his appeal hearing.
In yesterday’s proceedings, where prosecutor Anthony Delaney appeared for the Crown, Mr Munroe said he wished to add a supplemental submission, the Court of Appeal’s decision in the Andre Birbal matter, to his skeleton arguments.
Mr Delaney told the court that he too had authority cases that he had already presented.
The justices noted that they did not have a copy of the cases. That was when Justice Allen made her remarks, supported by Justices Stanley John and Abdulai Conteh.
Justice Allen noted that “practice direction” exists for a reason, and said her remarks were aimed at all attorneys who continue to file documents late.
Mr Munroe told the judge that her comments were well received and understood.
The matter was adjourned to June 4.