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Murder Verdict Upheld By Court Of Appeal

By LAMECH JOHNSON

Tribune Staff Reporter

ljohnson@tribunemedia.net

THE Court of Appeal has affirmed the conviction and 28-year sentence of a man who was found guilty of the murder of his former girlfriend.

John Adderley, 43, stood trial before Justice Bernard Turner in May 2014 concerning the fatal shooting of Denise Adderley on January 9, 2011.

Adderley’s lawyer, Murrio Ducille, had argued in the trial that his client should be found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility from depression.

But a jury rejected Adderley’s claim that he was not himself that night when they returned a unanimous guilty verdict at the conclusion of the trial. Four months later he was sentenced to 28 years at the Department of Correctional Services.

Adderley challenged his conviction on the grounds that the judge erred in law in allowing him to be convicted of murder notwithstanding that he had established he had diminished responsibility and should be convicted of manslaughter due to that fact.

Adderley believes the verdict is unreasonable and cannot be supported having regard to the evidence and it is unsafe and unsatisfactory having regard to the circumstances of the case.

Further, he believed the sentence imposed by the trial judge was harsh and excessive.

The appellate court, in a 2-1 majority decision, dismissed the appellant’s challenge to both conviction and sentence with Justices Dame Anita Allen and Jon Isaacs rejecting his arguments.

“The circumstances surrounding this killing were not in dispute in the present case,” the appellate president said in the June 7 written judgment.

“However, case law is clear that upon an issue of diminished responsibility, the jury is entitled to, and is bound to consider not only the medical evidence but all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including the nature of the killing, the conduct of the appellant before, at the time of, and after the killing, and any history of previous mental abnormality. In considering the evidence they are of course entitled to consider the quality and weight of the evidence. The determination of whether the defendant was suffering from diminished responsibility at the time of the killing is for the jury and not for doctors.

“Dr (Michael) Neville in giving evidence for the defence stated that the appellant’s abnormality of mind was of such severity as to affect his mental responsibility.

“ . . . It was clear to us therefore, that the quality and weight of the medical evidence in the case fell far short of the quality, and cogency of the medical evidence in Matheson, Bailey, and Brennan, the cases on which defence Counsel relied. We found this case clearly distinguishable from those cases.

“As is made clear in all of the cases, upon an issue of diminished responsibility, the jury is entitled to, and is bound to consider not only the medical evidence but all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including the nature of the killing, the conduct of the appellant before, at the time of, and after the killing, and any history of previous mental abnormality. In considering the evidence they are of course entitled to consider the quality and weight of the evidence.

“Given all of the circumstances in this case, we were strongly of the view that the jury was entitled not to accept as conclusive the medical opinion of Dr Neville, and to conclude as they did that the defence of diminished responsibility had not been established to the required standard, namely, on a balance of probabilities.

“Ultimately, the questions of whether the appellant was suffering from an abnormality of the mind and whether that substantially impaired his mental responsibility were questions for the jury, and for this court to conclude that they ought to have accepted the medical evidence in this regard would be to usurp the jury’s function. We had no lurking doubt about the safety of the murder conviction and were satisfied that the verdict was reasonable and supported by the evidence; therefore, we dismissed the appeal against conviction.”

As to the sentence, the court found that the time imposed on the appellant “falls below the lower end of that range, and mid-point on the range for manslaughter.”

Mr Ducille and Charisma Romer argued Adderley’s appeal while Viola Barnett responded for the Crown.

The appellate court’s full judgment is available on the appellate court website.

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