The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) sentencing guidelines committee has completed guidelines in relation to the offences of theft, robbery, rape, unlawful sexual intercourse and drug offences.
These new sentencing guidelines will take effect from October 1st 2019.
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) yesterday unveiled sentencing guidelines for drug offences, two offences of deception and two sexual offences that will all take effect from October 1st.
Her Ladyship Madam Justice Gertel Thom declared that after two years of toiling, the Sentencing Advisory Committee (SAC) is laying out guidelines for five areas – theft, robbery, rape, unlawful sexual intercourse and drug offences.
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court sentencing guidelines were created by Judge Janice Pereira, Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, who acted as President of the Sentencing Advisory Committee, under joint-chairmanship of Judge Thom, Justice of Appeal, and His Lordship Justice Iain Morley, High Court Judge.
In her feature address, Chief Justice Pereira emphasized that the guidelines are not meant to be rigid.
She said, “I want to make clear that the guidelines are not intended, and do not replace, the exercise of a sentencing officer’s discretion. Rather, what is required and what is expected is that sentences will follow the guidelines published for an offence unless to do so would not be in the interest of justice”.
Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Nelson says the new guidelines do not change the criminal law, but rather bring uniformity to sentencing.
Nelson explains that the new guideline outlines starting points for sentencing. He says for example in a serious case of rape where the maximum sentence is 30 years, the guidelines would suggest a sentencing of 75% of the time which is 22 and a half years.
However, Nelson says the guidelines are not cast in stone as judges are not mandated to follow, noting it is a guide to assist the judge in arriving to an appropriate sentence.
High Court Justice Ian Morley said the Eastern Caribbean can expect more sentencing guidelines to come on stream next Easter.
The guidelines will apply to the countries where the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court governs.