By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A MURDER convict who notoriously escaped from a police bus and prompted an island-wide manhunt three years ago is seeking to have the very same court that dismissed his appeal rehear the matter.
Ormand Leon, through his attorney Geoffrey Farquharson, has applied to have the Court of Appeal rehear the appeal it dismissed of his conviction and 41-year sentence for murdering Francisco Hanna in 2011.
According to Mr Farquharson, the Court of Appeal's original position was that it had no jurisdiction to rehear an appeal it had dismissed, and that Leon would have to petition the London-based Privy Council to seek redress.
However, Mr Farquharson said he has since informed the court of a "succession" of rulings from the Privy Council that say there is an "inherent jurisdiction" in the appellate court to "reopen an appeal in the interest of justice, where not to reopen it would lead to flagrant injustice".
In early 2016, police launched a massive island-wide manhunt for Leon after he escaped from a police bus taking him to the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services after he had been convicted of murdering Hanna. It was two weeks before he was due to be sentenced.
According to the evidence led at trial, Leon and another man, Denis Mather, decided to go looking for Hanna because on an earlier occasion, Hanna had injured Leon's brother. Mather thus wanted to shoot Hanna.
Leon and Mather got a vehicle to commit the act and drove in the area west of Wilson Tract. They eventually spotted Hanna, but because they thought he saw them, the pair drove off, secured another vehicle, and went in search of Hanna again.
The pair eventually located Hanna, and Leon, who was driving, stopped to let Mather, who was armed with a 9mm pistol, get out. Leon then drove a short distance away and while doing so heard about five gunshots. Shortly thereafter, Mather came running from a shortcut towards the car.
When Mather got in the car, he told Leon: "That's how you deal with fools." Afterwards, the pair left the area.
Hanna's body was discovered riddled with five bullets, three in his torso, and two in his upper extremities. He was rushed to the Princess Margaret Hospital by residents in the area, but he died in the hospital later that night.
At the trial, Mather was acquitted by the jury on Justice Bernard Turner's directions following a no-case to answer submission. The case proceeded with Leon electing not to take the witness stand; neither did he call any witnesses on his behalf.
Leon was ultimately convicted of murder, and on February 2, 2016, was told by Justice Turner that he would be sentenced for the crime on February 16 of that year. Moments after the adjournment, however, Leon escaped from a police bus on York Street, off Bay Street, while being taken to prison around noon.
An island-wide manhunt was immediately launched, with police at the time describing him as the Bahamas' most wanted convicted murderer, but Leon remained at large for two weeks.
Shortly after 11pm on February 17, 2016, Leon was discovered at a home on Fire Trail Road west off Gladstone Road and arrested. During a subsequent trial in the Magistrate's Court, Leon told the presiding adjudicator that the woman police accused of harbouring him during his two weeks on the run, his former lover Sharlene Stubbs, had only been found with him because he allegedly forced her into a car.
Leon, testifying by video link from the remand centre at the BDCS during Stubbs' trial, explained that at around 8.30pm on February 16, he saw Stubbs walking on East Street while he was "riding" with one of his friends. Leon said after he saw her, he drove up ahead of her and told his friend to call her to the car. When she did, Leon said he told her: "Let's go, jump in the car."
Leon said Stubbs refused to get in the car, causing him to repeat himself by saying: "Come in the (expletive) car."
Afterwards, Leon said he took Stubbs to his "spot" on Fire Trail Road. Once there, he said, he let his friend drive them to the back of the property, telling his friend to lock the gate on his way out.
Leon testified that he did not allow Stubbs to leave, and when asked why, explained that he was trying to get answers from Stubbs. Leon explained that he wanted to talk to her about the situation at hand at the time and "how she dissed me when I was in jail" and how she "abandoned" him.
Leon explained that Stubbs only visited him on three occasions after his initial incarceration when she told him she was no longer interested in a relationship.
Leon further explained that although he did not tie Stubbs up, he was in possession of a handgun that he did not hesitate to show her when talking with her. He also said he ordered Stubbs to braid his hair so he could further avoid police detection.
Nonetheless, police came to the property not long afterwards and they were both arrested.
The following day, Leon was sentenced to 41 years, six months, two weeks and one day in prison by Justice Turner, who found that the convict was apparently "unwilling" to remain in police custody during the court's sentencing.
Justice Turner said the two weeks and one day of his sentence represented the amount of time he spent on the run, as well as the one day after his sentencing was originally scheduled to take place.
Leon appealed his conviction and sentence, but it was unanimously dismissed in September of last year by the appellate court, which said it had no lurking doubts about the "safety" of his conviction. The appellate court also said it was satisfied that Justice Turner's sentence "cannot be impeached on any error of principle".