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Request For Stay On Trial Is Rejected By Supreme Court

By LAMECH JOHNSON

Tribune Staff Reporter

ljohnson@tribunemedia.net

A MAN’s request for a permanent stay on his trial in connection with the murders of an elderly woman and her grandson during a home invasion was dismissed by a Supreme Court judge yesterday.

Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs told 37-year-old Basil Gordon that he would stand trial on May 18 concerning the June 16, 2002, murders of Rosynell Newbold and her grandson, Kevin Wilson.

Senior Justice Isaacs said his decision was partly supported by the case of Regina v Paul Allan Moxey, where then Chief Justice Dame Joan Sawyer said: “What is fair is not one-sided; one has to take into account the requirement of fairness to the alleged victims of the crime and the need of the society to see that if an accused person is free, that he has been freed after a public and fair trial lest vigilante justice becomes the norm.”

Gordon, alias Kerri Nash Grant, was initially convicted and sentenced to death for the home invasion murders.

However, the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction and ordered a retrial on December 12, 2005.

Prosecutors did not schedule a new trial date until June 2011.

His initial retrial in 2013 was discontinued by the Crown because of a procedural error that occurred in 2002 surrounding the Crown’s only evidence against him. Gordon was committed to stand trial in the Supreme Court 12 days before DNA evidence was made available to the Crown.

Gordon, had made a constitutional motion on Monday arguing that he had, and would likely again, experience inhumane treatment, be deprived of his personal liberty, and be prejudiced at trial because of the long delay in the hearing of his case.

However, Senior Justice Isaacs yesterday ruled that there were no exceptional circumstances brought by Gordon for the court to give in to the declarations sought by the applicant.

“Beginning with article 17,” the judge said in his written ruling, “the applicant refers to conditions that he had endured at prison, particularly after his retrial was ordered.”

“His ipsi dixit (assertion) is that he was held on death row between December 12, 2005, when his appeal was allowed, and June 27, 2011, when his bail, originally granted in December 2008, was reduced and signed.”

“There is no evidence available as to the conditions of his detention,” the judge said. “The applicant, however, had other means of redress with regard to that complaint.”

The judge referred to the decision of then-Senior Justice Jon Isaacs, who heard Gordon’s previous constitutional motion and determined that Gordon “could have made a complaint to the Visiting Committee.”

“Article 28(2) of the Constitution prohibits applications under the Constitution where the court is satisfied that there is an alternate means of redress. I am so satisfied and the application under Article 17 is therefore dismissed.”

Regarding Gordon’s complaint of his personal liberty being deprived in contravention of Article 19, the judge said: “There is no evidence that the applicant has been deprived of his personal liberty by any unlawful means.”

“His detention was authorised by the court firstly on reasonable suspicion that he had committed a criminal offence and secondly in execution of a sentence of the court. The application under this article is also dismissed,” the judge ruled.

Senior Justice Isaacs acknowledged Gordon’s complaint of not receiving a fair trial within a reasonable time, grounded in Article 20 (1), “is the applicant’s more substantive point.”

In noting that this issue had been raised in Gordon’s previous application heard in 2011, the judge noted: “Apart from the delay, which is replete with efforts to bring the trial on for hearing, there appears nothing exceptional in the delay, even if it may seem unjustifiable.”

“There is no suggestion that the trial would be unfair in the sense that the applicant has been prejudiced by the delay. There is no complaint that he has lost access to any witness or other evidence.”

After adopting the statement of Dame Joan in the aforementioned case, Senior Justice Isaacs said: “Although the delay may be unjustifiable even under prevailing circumstance in the criminal justice system in the Bahamas, nothing sufficiently exceptional has been shown to stay the prosecution of such serious charges.”

“In all of the circumstances, the application is dismissed,” the judge concluded.

Gordon’s trial was scheduled to begin yesterday, but there were not enough jurors for the empanelling process.

The jury pool was asked to return to court on Monday, May 18.

Romona Farquharson-Seymour defends Gordon.

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