Leslie Pipersburgh and Patrick Robateau (Belize)
Leslie Pipersburgh and Patrick Robateau have had their convictions for four murders and an attempted murder quashed. Both had been sentenced to death.
At their original trial, the prosecution relied heavily on five dock identifications of Pipersburgh and Robateau. The judge failed to direct the jury adequately in relation to this evidence, which is generally considered to be extremely unreliable. It was primarily because of this failure that their Lordships held that the convictions were unsafe.
The Privy Council went on to clarify the correct procedure for dealing with alleged admissions made to ‘persons in authority’ who are not police officers.
Lord Rodger also gave guidelines on the appropriate sentencing procedure when a discretionary death sentence is being considered. His Lordship emphasized the need to obtain social enquiry and psychiatric reports for every prisoner being considered for a death sentence. These help inform the decision as to whether there is any possibility of a prisoner reforming and readapting to society. In recent capital cases elsewhere in the Caribbean it has been held that a discretionary death sentence should only be passed in exceptional circumstances and only when there is no possibility of reform or social re-adaptation.
Given its conclusion that the convictions were unsafe, the Privy Council did not need to rule on whether the sentences of death by hanging would constitute inhuman and degrading punishment and that the carrying out of those sentences would accordingly be unconstitutional.
The case has been remitted to the Court of Appeal of Belize, which will decide whether Pipersburgh and Robateau must face a fresh trial.http://www.caribbeannetnews.com/news-6475--43-43--.html