Elroy Howe v The Queen [ECSC]

JurisdictionCaribbean States
CourtEastern Caribbean Supreme Court
JudgeCECIL LEWIS, C.J (Ag), Acting Chief Justice
Judgment Date21 Sep 1972
Neutral Citation[1972] ECSC J0921-2
Docket NumberCriminal Appeal No 7 of 1972
[1972] ECSC J0921-2

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL

Before:

The Honourable the Acting Chief Justice

The Honourable Mr. Justice St. Bernard

The Honourable Mr. Justice Bishop (Ag. J.A)

Criminal Appeal No 7 of 1972

Between:
Elroy Howe
and
The Queen

E. Robertson for the Appellant

The Attorney-General (A. Warner, Q.C.) and

Miss M. Joseph (Legal Assistant) for the Crown

The Judgment of the Court was delivered by—
CECIL LEWIS, C.J (Ag)
1

The appellant having been convicted of the murder of Erlin McGuire and sentenced to death on March 9, 1972 has now appealed against his conviction. One of the grounds of appeal urged on his behalf is as

2

follows:

"That the Learned Trial Judge erred when in the course of his summing up he put the accused's character and previous convictions before the jury. The learned trial judge said:

'In addition to all that some or all of you may have been present, not too long ago when the accused was convicted of another criminal offence: but you should not allow any knowledge that he is a convicted person to prejudice your minds in any way against him but arrive at your verdict in keeping with your conscience and the facts to which you have heard the witnesses depose.'"

3

The words to which objection has been taken occur in a passage beginning on the first page of the judge's summing up, in which he delivered a warning to the jury that in arriving at their verdict they should act only on the evidence heard in court. This is the passage:

"Now in a comparatively small community such as ours, it is difficult if not impossible for you not to have heard something about this case before you took your seats in the jury box ; but in these criminal cases whether loss of life is involved or not the trial is based on the evidence which you hear from the jury box within the four walls of this Court. In all these cases, trial is not by newspaper, or by gossip, or by hearsay, or by any other means but by the evidence which you hear in this Court. You will not be influenced by any prejudice against the accused, or by any sympathy for the deceased, or for those whom the deceased has left behind. You will not allow any appeal to your emotions to affect you by conjecturing that what the Defence alleges took place at the hospital may well have taken place in respect of you, or in respect of any one close and dear to you. You will exclude from your minds anything which you have heard or read so that, finally, you can with a clear conscience return a verdict according to the evidence in this matter. In addition to all that, some or all of you may have been present, not too long ago, when the accused was convicted of another criminal offence; but you should not allow any knowledge that he is a convicted person to prejudice your minds in any way against him but arrive at your verdict in keeping with your conscience and the facts to which you have heard the witnesses depose to and apply the law to those facts as I direct you."

4

The exact facts which led the trial judge to use the words complained of are not known and neither counsel is in a position to give the court any assistance in the matter. In fact counsel for the appellant informed the court that he was not present in the court below when the conviction of...

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