Sylvester George Appellant v The Queen Respondent [ECSC]

JurisdictionCaribbean States
CourtEastern Caribbean Supreme Court
JudgeBerridge, C.J.
Judgment Date18 Jul 1984
Judgment citation (vLex)[1984] ECSC J0718-1
Docket NumberCRIMINAL APPEAL No. 1 of 1982
[1984] ECSC J0718-1

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL

Before:

The Honourable Mr. Justice Berridge—Chief Justice (Acting)

The Honourable Mr. Justice Robotham

The Honourable Mr. Justice Bishop (Acting)

CRIMINAL APPEAL No. 1 of 1982

Between:
Sylvester George
Appellant
and
The Queen
Respondent
Appearances:

D. Hamilton for the Appellant

Mr. Cenac, Director of Public Prosecutions for the Crown

Berridge, C.J.
1

(Acting) delivered the Judgment of the Court.

2

The appellant was, on the 7th day of October, 1983 convicted of the murder of Peter Elkin Octave on the 23rd August, 1982 and sentenced to death in the manner prescribed by law.

3

At the hearing Counsel for the appellant argued the following three grounds of appeal:—

  • (i) That the learned trial Judge misdirected the jury with regard to the Intent to be proved having regard to the malise of the evidence adduced by the prosecution.

  • (ii) That the learned trial Judge misdirected the jury with regard to the question of drunkeness.

  • (iii) That the accused trial was seriously prejudiced as a result of certain news reports prior to the learned trial Judge's summary.

4

With the leave of the Court Counsel also argued Accident as a further ground of appeal.

5

Briefly the Prosecution story is that on the night of 3rd August, 1982, during the Carnival Celebrations the appellant arrived at CastleHarbour Hill accompanied by one Devon Drew. He was armed with a gun and was sitting on a wall of Castle Harbour Hotel when he saw the deceased with a female companion approach. The appellant then pulled the gun from his waist telling Drew that he was ready for action. Drew asked him what he was talking about, left and when he got a certain distance away he glanced back and told the appellant "mind you don't shoot them people". Later he heard the sound of a shot whereupon he headed for his home.

6

The account of Blondell Lewis, the female companion of the deceased, is that she and the deceased having gone to this place which appears to be secluded and a bit of a lover's rendezvous she and the deceased were standing together when she heard a voice say "stick it up, don't move". She looked in the direction from which the voice came and saw a man with what she described as a "blue thing" across his nose and mouth. Lewis further stated that the deceased moved from before her and faced the person moving his shirt as he did so after which she heard a gun shot and the deceased fell to the ground. The person then fled.

7

In his unsworn statement from the dock which Defence Counsel argued differed little from the account given by Blondell Lewis, the appellant stated that on the night in question he had consumed one and a half glasses of brandy plus one bottle of bear and then at about 10 p. m. he went to the area where the incident occurred. He had the gun in his hand playing with it and had no intention of harming anyone. While approaching the top of the hill he saw a shadow move towards him he panicked, drew backwards, his foot shuffled on some stones his hands were flung into the air and the gun exploded. He stood up shocked when he saw a young man lying on the ground and then he ran away.

8

In arguing grounds (i) and (ii) together counsel contended and we agree, that the pivotal issue in this appeal was whether the appellanthad the intention to kill. In developing his argument Counsel contended that the question of drunkeness was relevant to the state of the mind of the appellant at the time of the fatal shooting and that the failure of the trial judge to emphasise to the jury the fact that the appellant had imbibed intoxicating drink and indulged in "smokes" (which he asked the court to interpret as meaning smoking marijuana) amounted to a misdirection.

9

Counsel for the appellant relied onR v Sheean and Moe [1975] 2 All E.R. 960 which both appellants were convicted of the lesser offence of manslaughter it having been argued in the case of Sheean that he was so drunk that he did...

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