Hildred Harford Appellant v Frank Harford Respondent [ECSC]

JurisdictionCaribbean States
CourtEastern Caribbean Supreme Court
JudgeST. BERNARD, J.A., ACTING CHIEF JUSTICE
Judgment Date25 Jan 1972
Neutral Citation[1972] ECSC J0125-2
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No. 6 of 1972
[1972] ECSC J0125-2

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL

Before:

The Honourable the Acting Chief Justice

The Honourable Mr. Justice St. Bernard

The Honourable Mr. Justice Louisy (Ag.)

Civil Appeal No. 6 of 1972

Between:
Hildred Harford
Appellant
and
Frank Harford
Respondent

G.Clyne for Appellant

H.E.L. Hosten, Q.C. for Respondent

ST. BERNARD, J.A.
1

This is an appeal from an order of the magistrate dismissing an application by the appellant for a maintenance—order against her husband under section 13 of the maintenance Ordinance, Chapter 180 of the Laws of Grenada.

2

The grounds alleged in the complaint were three, namely The appellant (a) being under a duty to provide reasonable maintenance for his wife has refused to do so; (b) has been guilty of persistent cruelty; and (c) has deserted his wife.

3

At the tiral, the defence pleaded adultery and desertion without giving any previous notice of the particulars of adultery. Perhaps I should state at this point that it is the duty of the respondent, despite the fact that there are no pleadings in the magistrate's court, that whenever a charge of adultery is made in a matrimonial matter, full particulars of that charge must be given before the trial to the party against whom the allegations are made. An allegation of adultery is a serious charge against a person, and one could not be expected properly to meet that allegation if that defence is raised at the trial without notice. I would adopt the words of Lord Merriman in the case ofDuffield v. Duffield (1949) 1 A.E.R. 1105 at page 1106 where he stated:

"InBroadbent v. Broadbent, Lord Merrivale, P., and Hill, J., put the matter in a way which is unanswerable and is unlimited in its application to any cumstances in which a charge of adultery may arise before a court of summary jurisdiction."

4

The trial proceeded and the appellant gave evidence in support of the grounds alleged in her complaint. She stated that the respondent and herself were married in 1968 and the marriage went well for a short while. The husband refused to give her money and would slap her everytime she asked for money to buy clothes. When she asked for food he would slap her also and he has done this, at least, about eight or nine/times. On the third September, 1971, (that is the day on which she left the home) she stated that she was washing in a tub when her brother-in-law Elijah Harford took a hose and sprayed her with it. She complained to the husband saying "look how your brother wet me". The brother said to her husband "Frank, kick her up, kick her up." The husband replied, "my foot is too good to kick her, the quicker she leaves the place and go the better for her." Then he took a piece of rope and struck her on her buttocks with it. She went away and on her return the respondent told her to go to Mr. Archibald and make right for her coffin. She went to the police station and left the home.

5

The husband, with the support of his brother, gave evidence that on the 3rd of September, 1971, the brother found her committing an act of adultery. Elijah Harford, the brother of the respondent, stated that on that date he was going to feed a cow, and when he reached a part of the field, he saw the appellant with a man having sexual intercourse. The man ran away and so he was unable to identify him, but it was a brown skinned man. He said he saw the appellant take her pantie and put in her bosom and he saw the erection of the man's penis. Later in the day in the presence of her husband, the witness accused the appellant of adultery.

6

Counsel for the appellant contended that the evidenceof adultery should not he accepted in the circumstances of this case. It was a serious allegation and though it was not one which required corroboration yet in the circumstances of this case, the evidence of Elijah Harford should not have been accepted without corroboration.

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