For the Merciless - They Shall Obtain Mercy

L- Minister Dr. Cort, AG and GGConsequent upon the historic ruling in the “...Pratt and Morgan Case,” there may be a favorable twist of fate for seven prisoners languishing in the Antigua and Barbuda lone penal institution.

Facing the penalty of death, their scheduled appearance before High Court Justice Keith Thom on June 27, 2013, was said to be for preparatory formalities, intended for the judicial removal from the agony of “...Death Row.” The possibilities exist for their “...Death Sentences” to be commuted to “...Life Imprisonment” and/or such specified periods for continued incarceration.  On January 6, 2013, Guyana’s Chief Justice Ian Chang ordered the “...removal of six condemned prisoners from Death Row.” Some had languished for 28 years. Said the Chief Justice “...They had already served a lifetime and to hang them now would be cruel and inhuman” [Kaieteur News: Jan.17, 2013]. In effect, Death Row prisoners would have been facing “...double jeopardy”-serving 28 years of life incarcerated and then hanged for the same crime.”

Like the rest of the region, Trinidad and Tobago has similar Constitutional provisions. Faced with “...an exponential increased in kidnappings and murders,” flexing its muscle of sovereignty, its Judicial Records may reflect that in spite of “ ...appellate proceedings pending before the London Privy Council” on the vexed issue of the “ ...Death Penalty,” that nation took the “ ...noose in its hand” and executed 10 murder convicts in 1999. The executions were swift and said to have been the first since 1994. The executions had been strongly condemned by the various international human rights organizations, but it had achieved its objectives. Further research showed that except Jamaica [1988], several executions were carried out across the region between “1995 and 2000” in ...St. Lucia and St. Vincent [1995]; ...British Protectorate-Bahamas [2000] and the ...Federation of St. Kitts/Nevis [2008] [Wikipedia].

Six years after the “ ...Pratt and Morgan Ruling,” former Attorney General Dr. Errol Cort announced that five condemned prisoners would be hanged sometime between January 27 and 28, 2000. Amnesty International quickly intervened through a letter to then Prime Minister Lester B. Bird. Writes the pro-life organization “ ...Amnesty International has received a report that the men named ...Marvin Joseph; ...Mellanson Harris; ...Lorriston Cornwall; ...Confessor Valdez Franco and Michael ‘Irie’ Mason, have had Death Warrants read to them , scheduling them for execution on 27 and 28 January, 2000” and appealed for reprieve [Wikipedia]. Only Michael ‘Irie’ Mason had exhausted the appellate processes up to the Judicial Committee of the London Privy Council.  Lacking the moral courage and resolve shown by Trinidad and Tobago, the five murder-convicts fortuitously escaped death. The last execution was that of “...Tyrone Nicholas on February 2, 1991” [DPW]. Still languishing on “...Death-Row,” Michael Mason may say with some measure of relief, “...I am truly Irie.”

While Amnesty International focused upon the “...Right to life,” it nonetheless, expressed concerns over the “...grief, sorrow and pain” descended upon bereaved families across the globe. However, it was clear that its primary objectives, includes “...Abolishing the Death Penalty.” Writing at its website, it said “....Hanging as an affront to human dignity; ...the ultimate form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a violation of the most fundamental right-the right to life” [Doc. A&B-Death Penalty: AI: Public AL Index: AMR 58/01/00: Jan. 24, 2006].

The dreadful colonial past had left the region with a “...jurisprudential legacy,” that allows for the London Privy Council to be its final appellate Court. As sovereign nations, none may apportioned blame to the British who had shown a willingness to discontinue with such judicial services to the region. Culturally, philosophically and practices, the region was different to customs obtained in the United Kingdom. However, for some inexplicable reasons, most have shown a resolve in maintaining the Judicial Committee of its Privy Council for “...Final Civil, Criminal and Constitutional Appeals.” Even so, Britain had attempted to impose its “...Laws of Morality and/or Immorality” upon the region. Most reprehensible, was suggestion for embracement of a lifestyle associated with certain unions. Maintaining its civility, social graces and moral practices of socialization, the region appeared to have avoided susceptibility to influences that singer Phil Collins would delight in “...Lighting a Candle” that he should see his way up the aisle with those displaying “...effeminate traits.” For these and other reasons, it had overwhelmingly rejected such overtones and/or persuasive influences.

More crucial was Britain’s abolition of the “...Death Penalty.” Thus, it had adopted a philosophical approach to hanging, making it abundantly clear in its Privy Council ruling in the Jamaican case of “... Earl Pratt and Ivan Morgan” [AP. No.10 of 1993], that those who “...intentionally killed; ...caused grief and sorrow and brought tears to the eyes of grieving families, they “...SHALL be executed within five years.” The procedural complexities and time consuming processes had made such virtually impossible. In actuality, what the British had said “...If national authorities cannot execute condemned murderers within five years, should they appeal to the Privy Council, it will “...commute the Sentences of Death to “...Life Imprisonment.” There are many legal luminaries who firmly believed that such decisions can be justly taken by a properly funded, constituted and functional Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

In that case,” (i) ...the Registrar had inadvertently neglected to communicate the Court’s Decisions to Governor General; (ii) ...The latter had failed to seek counsel from Her Majesty’s Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, as to whether the Accused “ ...Die or Live.” Both Registrar and Governor General had breached the Constitutional provisions of “...Sections 90 and 91.”  Constitution (JA) states “...No convicted murderer may be put to the gallows, SIMPLY on the Order of the Court (Trial Judge). The chain of events that had surrounded the two accused:  “...Arrested and charged with murder in 1977; ...Tried, convicted and sentenced to Death in 1979. Fourteen years later, both accused were languishing on Death Row. Appeal against Death Penalty was dismissed in 1980; ...Appellate Decision handed down three years later. They were scheduled to be executed in 1987 [AP No.10 of 1993].

The convicts filed “Constitutional Appeals” to the Privy Council, whose landmark “...Ruling and Practice Directions” had become settled Law. Regional jurisdictions shall “...Follow or Abolish” such penalty. The Privy Council heard that “...Death Warrants were read to the condemned prisoners on three occasions, the last being “...February 1991 for execution on March 7, 1991.” The convicts sought and obtained a “...Stay of Execution on March 6, 1991.”  Writes the seven distinguished jurists, “...The statement of these bare facts is sufficient to bring home to the mind of any person of ‘normal sensitivity and compassion,’ the agony of mind these men may have suffered as they have alternate between ‘Hope and Despair’ for fourteen years.” They had considered, inter alia, “...the emotional and psychological” impact the delay had on the accused. Thus, they had determined that such constituted “...Cruel and inhuman treatment.”

When the nation’s Attorney General Justin L. Simon QC expressed persistent advocacy for the region’s people to embrace the “...Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final Appellate Court, he was directly pleading with policy-makers who may have sought to indoctrinate those of “...inferior and/or superior intellect” to avoid it. Seemingly, those who looked at the “...Jurisprudential Initiative,” as good in principle, also saw its applicability as bad for the dispensation of “...Political Justice.” Most with apparent “...obscured agendas,” seemed mortally afraid of independent Judges, possessing far more “...professional integrity and scruples” than many who held, and perhaps, still hold public office. Most had a history of engaging in skullduggerous acts “...fleecing limited national resources; ...selling or bartering national assets; ...amassing personal wealth; ...oppressing opponents, while pauperizing citizens with burdensome taxes.” No one individual, group or community may be blamed for their continued malfeasance, for according to Slinger Francisco, Mighty Sparrow, collectively, “...We like it so.”

What the citizenry and the regional leadership had failed to appreciate, Attorney General Justin Simon was saying (i) “...Invest in the CCJ as  the final Appellate Court; (ii) ...Remove the jurisprudence from the dictates of the London Privy Council; (iii) ...Eliminate costliness for travel to London and engagement of professional legal services of British Attorneys; (iv) ...Have faith in the region’s appointed administrators of Justice; (vi) ...Britain had abolished the Death Penalty in 1965, and may be guided by its own principles and philosophical beliefs. He was also saying, in dealing with those who “...intentionally killed,” even with evidence of barbarity,” murderers may be spared the hangman’s noose.” Such was made very clear in the “...Earl Pratt and Ivan Morgan case.”

Respecting the Constitutional guarantee (ANU) for the “ ...Protection of the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the Individual,” Section 4 (1) states “ ...No person shall be deprived of his life intentionally, save in the execution of the sentence of the Court in respect of a crime of Treason or Murder of which he has been convicted.” Thus, the Constitution makes it quite clear that a person who “...intentionally Killed another,” will himself be killed, provided he had been convicted at trial and a Court so ordered. Justifiable killings such as (i) “ ...For the defence of any person from violence or the defence of property; (ii) ...In order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained; (iii) ...For the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny; or (iv) ...In order to prevent the commission by that person of  a criminal offence or if he dies as the result of a lawful act of war,” are not considered “ ...intentional,” but may cause anxieties if “ ...Justification” cannot be shown. The recent case of “...Constable Keville Nelson/Denfield ‘Tody’ Thomas” speaks to such difficulties. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to 22 years imprisonment [2009].

Antigua and Barbuda having become an independent state within the British Commonwealth of nations, was handed a Constitution Order 1981 that provides for the “...Protection of inhuman treatment.” For instance, Section ‘7’ states “...No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman and degrading PUNISHMENT or other treatment.” The Constitution has made it clear that even though certain punishment might be so seen, that which ought to be dished out shall be dished out as the Law dictates. For example Subsection ‘2’ states “ ...Nothing contained in or done under the authority of ANY law shall be held to be inconsistent with, or in contravention of this Section to the extent that the law in question authorizes the infliction of any description of punishment that was lawful in Antigua and Barbuda on 31st October, 1981.” Following the Constitutional provision that speaks to “...Cruel and inhuman treatment and a London Privy Council ruling in the historic “...Pratt and Morgan Case” upholding the Constitutional protection and Britain’s own “...Abolishment of the Death Penalty in 1965,” may favor the murder-convicts who had been languishing in jail following their conviction and sentence that had exceeded the five year principle laid down for the exhaustion of the Appellate process.

Recent media reports had revealed public prosecuting authorities were moving toward “...Sentencing Review Proceedings” for murder convicts languishing on Death Row for over five years [Caribarena: May 18, 2013]. Such revelations had revived “...public interest; ...triggered widespread discussions and renewed incessant calls for the resumption of hanging of those convicted of murder. From the very heinous nature and ways the murders were perpetrated, it was obvious that many criminals on “...Death Row” had shown scant regard for the “...Sanctity of Life.” Thus, when Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Anthony Armstrong reportedly disclosed that seven of the nation’s most notorious “...Death Row Killers” shall appear in the High Court of Justice on June 21, 2013, it would be for the purposes of removing them from “...Death Row,” possibly to a lifetime of penal servitude.

The murder-convicts came from several communities across the nation. The notorious seven are “...Lorriston Cornwall of All Saints; ...Fitzroy ‘Barba’ Jarvis of Bethesda; ...Atley ‘Devil’ Alexander of Bolans; ...Michael ‘Irie’ Mason of Jennings; Steadroy 'Fox' Mc Dougal of Potters and ...Marvin Joseph and Mellanson ‘Mel’ Harris of Barbuda. They had savagely snuffed out the lives of eleven victims, among whom were four males “...William Clever; ...Ian Cridlan; ...Thomas Williams and Mitchell Melins.” The seven female victims were “...Patricia Farrell; ...Jacqueline Simon and daughters Amber James 13, and Sophia Jones 10; ...Wendy Newbigging; ...Louise Torrens; ...Kathleen Clever.” Since their convictions and sentences, legal hurdles arising from the appellate processes, including interventions by international human rights organizations have thwarted the efforts of the authorities in carrying out the orders of the Courts.

This part of the commentary seeks only to enlighten. It reflects, inter alia, frightening investigative experiences into killings that may have been rightly or wrongly or aptly described as “...brutal; ...savage; ...barbaric; ...gruesome; ...heinous or bizarre.” The graphic nature of some descriptions may be unnerving and may induce hysterical or convulsive conditions. Thus, the fainthearted may abstain from reading the contents that may induce such conditions. Consequently, reader’s discretion is advised. Emotions may be evoked by the extremely violent ways victims came to their untimely death.”  Between 1993 and 1998, there were eleven murder-victims, four of whom were males. The killings were senseless as they were calculatedly brutal, barbaric and cold-blooded. The seven murderers had been found guilty by members of their peers (Jury) for perpetrating the deadly crime, either out of “...passion or in the course of robbery or revenge,” against unsuspecting and defenceless victims.

Those who may have seen some human remains, memories of these may never go into oblivion. For instance, in the “...fiery deaths of “......mother Jacqueline Simon and daughters Amber James 13, and Sophia Jones 10 [1997] and the “...hammer-bludgeoned/fiery deaths” of Mitchell Melins and Louise Torrens, their extensively charred bodies at the respective Cooks Hill residence and English Harbour Apartment, resembled “...roasted ham” [December 25, 1998]. On the fateful Christmas day, and even today, reflections on the gruesome corpses, make “...ham consumption,” difficult and unpalatable. With front and back doors securely fastened on the outside, pregnant mother and daughters had no way out of the inferno. More of a gruesome nature was the lifeless body of Lindel Scotland. Seemingly lured and attacked in the bushy agricultural area at Bethesda, the body showed “...several vicious cutlass wounds.” Unnerving was one to the abdomen. It revealed the unthinkable. Through the severely ruptured digestive organs, flowed a recently consumed meal of “...Spinach Rice.” Thus, as blood flowed profusely to the ground, so too, was the food contents from the gaping abdominal injuries [1998].

For Patricia Farrell who was strangled, death may have been “...suffocating and painful.” Her body may have been consumed by fire in a “...freshly dug make-shift grave of a Coal kiln” [1994]. Clearly this was intended for its effective destruction and permanent concealment. For the other victims, bullets to the heads of “...William Clever 58; ...Kathleen Clever 50; ...Ian Cridlan 33; and Thomas Williams 22” (yacht Computacenter Challenger), suggested painless, but instant death [1994]. In 1995, identified as the lone gunman, within hours of the deadly incident, the killer of a Canadian tourist was brought to justice. Tried by a Jury of his peers, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. By a single bullet through the heart, Michael ‘Irie’ Mason 26, took the breath of life from innocent victim, 26 year old Wendy Newbigging. Lazing on the Valley Church beach in the warmth of the tolerable midday sun, she was senselessly and brutally killed in the presence of her vacationing parents, in a brazen robbery.

While the “...Computacenter Challenger murders” had provoked public disquiet and national outrage and the killings had also alarmed the international community, so too was the “...Savagery and butchering” associated with the tragic death of former Comptroller of Customs, “...Rolston Samuel.” With multiple cutlass wounds to his body, he was bathed in his own blood, splattered on floors and walls in the privacy of his home.” It still “...boggles the mind” in discerning what “...Special circumstances,” if any, or the rationale considered by the Mercy Committee in recommending “...three convicted violent criminals for “...Prison Pardons, said to have been shrouded in secrecy.”

Recent development in the “...Everton Welch murder conviction” may make the work of the “...Mercy Committee” seemed suspect of discriminatory practices and “...pregnant with sheer hypocrisy.” In 2011, Attorney-at-law Dr. David Dorsett sought judicial intervention before Justice Richard Floyd who had determined that the murder convict had been “...sufficiently rehabilitated” and ordered his release. Viewed with suspicion, the “...Mercy Committee of Antigua and Barbuda” had denied the appeals of “...Marvin Joseph and Mellanson Harris” against the “...Death Penalty.” Its members had shown no mercy to the “...cold-blooded Barbudan killers.” The Committee stated then that “...There was no special circumstance.” Today, the “...Pratt/Morgan Ruling” may favor their desire for continued living, even under strict restrictive prison conditions.

The ex-prisoner, Everton Welsh and another were sentenced to prison at the age of 17 years for the savage killing of a former Comptroller of Customs Rolston Samuel [1993]. He had served almost 19 years at “...Her Majesty’s Pleasure.” There was no such penalty as “...At Her Majesty’s Pleasure.” However, it was a phrase used by the “...British Judiciary” in dealing with juveniles convicted of murder. In further developments, the ex-prisoner was said to have a pending judicial matter before the London Privy Council seeking “...Compensation from the State” for the “...indefinite and/or extended period of incarceration” at Her Majesty’s Prison. Under Antiguan and Barbudan Law, the penalty for murder is “...Death.” Mitigating circumstances, infrequently, may militate against its execution. The experiences of former Trinidadian pilot Ronald ‘Ron’ Gederon and Constable Keville Nelson are cases on point.

Conscientious citizens have often wondered how the “...Criminal Justice System” worked for the less fortunate members of society. The citizenry have seen “...young juveniles and adults” being incarcerated for lengthy periods for some acts classified as “...Offences of Strict Liability.” These offences, include “...Possession of Controlled Vegetable Substances” (Cannabis/Cocaine) and petty larceny. They have also seen that crimes perpetrated against the person- “...traumatic shootings resulting in serious physical injuries; ...death; ...Rape and Buggery” in which “...Executive Pardons” were recommended’” Contrastingly, “...non-physical offences” were given no such considerations. Evidence of this may have been seen when the nation of Antigua and Barbuda celebrated its 30th Anniversary of Sovereignty on November 1, 2011.

When National Security Minister Dr. Errol Cort, apparently erroneously informed local media that “...five convicts” had been granted “...Prison Pardons” by Governor General Dame Louise Lake-Tack, he had quickly corrected the information to signify “...three nameless convicts.” Notwithstanding, insults were added to the victims and citizen’s injury, that “...three violent criminals” had been released into the community without any formal monitoring systems or rehabilitative programmes. The irony of it all, were three vicious criminals duly convicted were identified as (i) ... Kareem Baptiste, son of a prominent public official. Convicted of “ ...Rape and Buggery” of a Santo Domingo national, he was slapped with a 20 year jail term; (ii) ...Jermaine Webber, Wounding with Intent to do Grievous Bodily Harm and (iii) a notorious gunman, Atiba Francis who was convicted of “ ...Shooting with Intent to Murder.” These developments had provoked widespread national speculations, fuelling fears and prompting official explanations to ease public disquiet. The citizenry felt that the vicious nature of their crimes dictated that society shall have been protected from them for a considerable time.

Seemingly found itself in “...an inexplicable and embarrassing situation,” a Press Release from the office of the Governor General, optimistically states “... The individuals receiving pardon have exhibited qualities (within the confines of prison) that will allow them to be effectively re-integrated into society and have demonstrated that they are prepared to contribute positively to their communities” [Daily Observer: Nov. 8, 2011]. Law abiding citizens felt that “...such optimism and reformation” might be possible only to the extent that “...Reproductive organs have been mutilated and guns and/or other offensive weapons” were inaccessible to those with a “...propensity for cold-blooded or sexual violence.” Apart from feelings seemingly shared only by the Governor General Dame Louise Lake-Tack, such may have bordered “...Figment of imagination.” For those on “...Death Row,” though they may find little solace, they may find hope where despair once flourished. Being allowed to escape the gallows, they may still say “...Jah Bless.”Despite their merciless killings, “...They shall obtain Mercy” [Mat. 5: 7].                                  

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7 Comments In This Article   


RE: For the Merciless - They Shall Obtain Mercy

#7 dave +led » 2013-05-21 17:41

Ok sir thanks

dave +led

AG, GG And Caught

#6 3 the hard way » 2013-05-21 16:54

should be locked up

3 the hard way


#5 RAWLSTON POMPEY » 2013-05-21 15:17

Dave + Led,
You may have " ...inadvertently overlooked" paragraph " ...BRITISH PHYLOSOPHY."
The answer to your question lies in that paragraph- " ...Jamaican Case."

Regional jurisprudence is to be guided by the " ...1993 Pratt/Morgan Ruling," unless they are prepared to do as Trinidad and Tobago did in 1999.

Today, hardly anyone speaks about the high-handed manner in which it behaved then. Such ruling now gives " ...murder-convicts hope.


Lets Cat convicted criminals and hang the murderers

#4 Parishoner » 2013-05-21 08:56

How can we as a people allow these sickos Amnesty Int'l to determine what we do when people commit these deliberate murders. Do they live among us? Why don't they say send them to us and we will keep them.


RE: For the Merciless - They Shall Obtain Mercy

#3 dave +led » 2013-05-21 06:19

Who is this prat and morgan ,are they from antigua

dave +led

RE: For the Merciless - They Shall Obtain Mercy

#2 Ceasar » 2013-05-21 04:49

Mr. Pompey, your analysis is quite thorough but you should have included that Jacqueline Simon was 8-9 months pregnant when she was murdered. The photos shown to the Court during trial were of the foetus literally right beside the mother, having some how made its way out of her body. The pictures themselves told the story of the torture and suffering her daughters would have endured. Remember only one child, Shekima, escaped through the window, though she too was burned.
Maybe I should know better but forget Pratt & Morgan, Atley Alexander should have been hanged and hanged and hanged again. Were it up to me, he would still be hanged somewhere for all to see. No Privy Council can take the images or the facts of that case from my head....he was and remains merciless and as such no legal or humanitarian argument can convince me that he deserves mercy. If given the chance he will kill again.


RE: For the Merciless - They Shall Obtain Mercy

#1 Woods » 2013-05-21 02:36

Justice denied


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Mr. Rawlston Pompey

 Mr. Rawlston Pompey






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