The quote “Justice delayed is justice denied” is attributable to William Ewart Gladstone. It is a legal maxim that slides easily off the tongues of lawyers and politicians alike, never mind that they do very little to speed up the grinding wheels.
The quote came to mind this week when a number of murder cases were brought before the High Court. Among them was one case in the name of accused Michael Stephen who has been in custody since 1978, dear reader, before Saint Lucia was granted independence from Great Britain whose government only recently repeated its call for our leaders to abandon the death penalty. Stephen’s lawyers are seeking to have his case reviewed.
The other cases heard this week involved three men on remand since 2009 and another since 2002.
On Monday December 15 five major cases were scheduled to be heard before Justice Francis Cumberbatch in the final docket fixture for the year. Among the state versus accused killers were Jonathan St. Rose aka Ninja Dan, Lynden Blasse and Marvyn Terry Nelson.
The three men have been on remand since 2009. Their case has garnered much public attention in part due to its nature and the profile of one of the accused, Ninja Dan, who was at the time of his arrest a widely appreciated entertainer.
On Monday Ninja Dan and fellow accused, whose case has several times been adjourned, were finally granted a trial date of February 2, 2015. The other matter involves Peter Solomon who was charged with the murder of Cyril Laurency in 2002 in Ti Rocher.
There are approximately 369 inmates currently on remand at the Bordelais Correctional Facility of which 358 are male. Remand Justice, a recently formed pressure group that includes Senator Steven King, has been appealing to the government to pay more attention to the justice system that keeps citizens behind bars for years without even a trial date.