Sentence quashed for man sentenced to 35 years despite absence at trial

Sentence quashed for man sentenced to 35 years despite absence at trial

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A man convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 35 years behind bars despite not being present in court has had his sentence quashed by the Court of Appeal and a retrial ordered in the Supreme Court.

Cordero Smith, a juvenile in 2012, was arraigned with others in the juvenile court and eventually in the Supreme Court on the charge of attempted murder.

A trial commenced on January 30, 2017, in Smith’s absence.

In his absence, he was convicted in February 2017 and sentenced on March 6.

He appealed on the basis that the judge erred in allowing the trial to commence and continue in his absence and argued that the verdict was unsafe.

Court of Appeal Justices Sir Michael Barnett, Maureen Crane-Scott and Milton Evans ruled on the matter.

“The learned judge, even if she had decided to proceed in the absence of the appellant, was required to consider whether doing so would lead to injustice,” read the ruling.

“It is clear that no evidence was led by the Crown as to their efforts to contact or locate the appellant.

“There was an indication that the appellant may not have known about the court date.

“The issue was raised about confusion which, from time to time, occurred due to the fact that there was another inmate with the same name.

“It was also brought to the judge’s attention that the appellant, who was on remand for the present charge, was also serving time.”

The appellate court said the Supreme Court judge did not take “reasonable steps” to ascertain whether the appellant was actually informed of his trial date nor why he was not present at the commencement of the trial.

“She appeared to have operated on the assumption that the appellant was present in court in September 2016 and was therefore aware of the trial date,” read the ruling.

“That could hardly be sufficient.

“We could not say that in all the circumstances, the appellant’s trial was properly and fairly disposed of in his absence.”

Attorney Krysta Mason-Smith represented Smith.

Stephanie Pintard represented the Crown.

About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.