By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A MAN contesting his sentence for murder in the death of a utility technician will now have his appeal heard in January 2017.
Leslie Webster, 57, appeared in the Court of Appeal yesterday for his expected substantive hearing concerning his formal challenge to a 60-year sentence imposed on him by the Supreme Court for the 2001 murder of Garfield Wright.
However, Webster’s lawyer, Glendon Rolle, was notably absent from the Claughton House courtroom when the matter was called.
Crown respondent Cordell Frazier indicated that she had received a letter from Mr Rolle that he would be unable to argue the matter due to ongoing pain and discomfort he was experiencing from a recent traffic accident.
Appellate President Justice Dame Anita Allen also indicated that she had received the same communication from the attorney and asked Webster if he’d spoken with his lawyer.
The appellate said he had.
Dame Anita asked the respondent if submissions and responses had already been filed in the matter.
Ms Frazer confirmed that this was the case.
“Good. So it is ready for hearing and the matter is adjourned to January 31, 2017 for substantive hearing,” the appellate president said.
Wright, a 40-year-old Cable Bahamas lines technician, was stabbed to death 16 times about the body with a knife as he tried to protect his 10-year-old daughter from an intruder during a break-in at the family home in Fiddler’s Green, Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Webster was linked to the crime scene through DNA taken from fingernail clippings and a confession statement after he was arrested by police.
He was unanimously convicted by a jury in March 2005 and was subsequently sentenced to death.
However, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in 2006 ruled that the country’s mandatory death penalty upon a murder conviction was unconstitutional.
His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment afterwards and at a re-sentencing hearing in February 2011 before then Senior Justice Jon Isaacs, he received a 60-year sentence.
He is now challenging that punishment on the grounds that it is excessively harsh.
Cassie Bethell will be assisting Ms Frazier in the Crown’s response to the appeal.