COA dismisses govt. appeal of Sewell case

COA dismisses govt. appeal of Sewell case
Matthew Sewell (centre) and his attorney, Fred Smith (left), immediately after Sewell's release in 2015.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Court of Appeal (COA) has dismissed the government’s application for leave to appeal out of time against a Supreme Court Ruling in favor of Jamaican national Matthew Sewell.

It comes after a years-long legal battle over his false imprisonment.

In September, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Sewell, and awarded damages to be assessed.

In its written ruling, the COA noted that the government failed to seek leave from the Supreme Court to appeal interlocutory matters and was out of time.

“There would be no basis for this court to extend the time unless and until the court below grants them leave to appeal those interlocutory orders,” the ruling read.

“…If the intended appellants obtain leave to appeal these two interlocutory orders (notwithstanding that the assessment of damages has already taken place), then they are at liberty to apply for an extension of time.

“But unless and until that has been done, there is no basis for us to grant the application for an extension of time.”

The costs of the application to extend the time and the costs of the appeal were awarded to Sewell.

Sewell was first arrested in June 2006 at the age of 18 after being accused of raping a six-year-old girl. He had been granted three weeks’ stay in The Bahamas to visit his father.

He was subsequently arrested five more times on different charges and detained at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre on the grounds that he was in the country illegally.

For more than nine years, he was imprisoned and detained on and off without facing a hearing on charges of sexual assault, housebreaking and murder.

He sued the government for damages pertaining to false imprisonment, assault and battery, malicious prosecution, arbitrary and unlawful detention and breaches of his fundamental rights under the Constitution.

Sewell is asking the court to be awarded $27,533,7000 along with special damages.

He is still awaiting a decision on quantum.