Barbados: Aquitted Murder Suspect Gets Additional US$30, 000 in Damages

Pedro Deroy Ellis Barbados Today
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The Barbados government has been ordered to pay a man acquitted of murder an additional BDS$60,000 (US$30,000) for breaching his constitutional rights.

The payout ordered by Justice Cecil McCarthy on Wednesday, came just over a month after Justice Shona Griffith awarded Pedro Deroy Ellis BDS$75,000 (US$37, 500) for the 18 days he was detained even after being acquitted of murder.

Justice McCarthy also moved to ensure Ellis does not face trial for the May 5, 2013 murder of Antonio Harewood.

“Even though I have no official information from the DPP’s office, I can only assume he will not be retried in relation to any matter. In any event, out of an abundance of caution, I have made an order that [Ellis] should not be tried for any offence arising out of the facts that have resulted in his acquittal of the charge of murder so that he can’t be tried for anything arising out of that,” the judge said.

Just under two weeks ago, Justice McCarthy had ruled that the former murder accused’s right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time as well as his right to bail had been breached. However, the quantum of the compensation was only handed down on Wednesday.

During his ruling, the judge expressed concern that the justice system was under-resourced and needed to be boosted to prevent matters similar to Ellis’.

“There is clearly a need, in my view, to treat this matter as a priority. You cannot have a number of decisions all going in one direction and not be jolted into taking action to not only acknowledge but to deal with what is clearly . . . if not a crisis, certainly a very difficult phase in terms of the administration of justice,” he said.

“I don’t think that the courts and the judges . . . sufficiently explain to people the extent of the underfunding in this area. That is part of the reason why you are going to have people on remand for excessive periods . . .. Because this is, in my view, an underfunding of the system and until that underfunding is dealt with you are going to have problems as you transition to having a more efficient system.”

Justice McCarthy added that the lack of resources to deal with the backlog of cases was having a detrimental effect on the system.

“There is a backlog that if you undertake to deal with it, it necessarily affects your other work, but if you don’t do it you are going to have a lot of embarrassing situations before the courts,” he said.

The judge commended Ellis’ lead attorney, Queen’s Counsel Larry Smith who represented him throughout his cases along with Jamila Smith, for the tenacity with which he was pursuing these cases.

He said it would “redound to the jurisprudence as well as the efficiency with which these matters are dealt with by the judicial system”.



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