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Ruling Due On Friday For Manslaughter Sentence

By LAMECH JOHNSON

Tribune Staff Reporter

ljohnson@tribunemedia.net

A JUDGE said he would give a ruling on Friday concerning the resentencing of a man whose murder conviction was reduced to manslaughter on appeal.

Gaswell Lockhart, 60, appeared before Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs where his lawyer, Sonia Timothy, urged the court to impose a sentence of no more than 15 years for the shooting death of Antonil Scott in 1998.

Scott was fatally shot after a fight broke out with Lockhart. Lockhart had claimed that it was Scott who had pulled out a gun and during the struggle to defend himself, Scott was shot. However, the jury rejected his defence and found him guilty of murder at his trial in 2000. Lockhart was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment.

The Court of Appeal accepted that the trial judge should not have removed the option of provocation from the jury but was not persuaded to order a retrial given the strength of the evidence in the case.

In yesterday’s proceedings, Crown prosecutor Ambrose Armbrister argued that 30 years was an appropriate sentence given the seriousness of the offence, the circumstances and the fact that Lockhart has yet to express remorse or take responsibility for his actions.

Ms Timothy countered that her client, while maintaining his innocence, had expressed remorse for loss of life. She added that persons interviewed by the probation officer for the sentencing exercise, including officers from the Department of Correctional Services, noted Lockhart as someone who avoided conflict.

Lockhart’s lawyer referred the court to the case of Dominique Moss who, in 2014, was resentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment for manslaughter by a Supreme Court judge.

The London Privy Council had sent Moss’ case back to the Court of Appeal for a new sentence after it ruled in November 2013 that the local appellate court should have heard arguments from Moss’ lawyer on the appropriate sentence before sentencing him to 25 years.

The appellate court, in turn, remitted the matter to the Supreme Court.

Moss had been convicted of the murder of 19-year-old Samantha Forbes in 2000. She had been sexually assaulted and her head was decapitated.

The charge was reduced to manslaughter on appeal because Moss was drunk when the crime was committed and the law requires the Crown to produce evidence that there was an intention to kill for the murder conviction to stand.

Senior Justice Isaacs adjourned his ruling on the matter to September 4 at 10.30am.

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