Bell v Attorney General

CourtSupreme Court (Bahamas)
JudgeHilton, J.
Judgment Date04 October 2017
Date04 October 2017
Docket NumberCri/bal/00293/2015

Supreme Court

Hilton, J.


Attorney General

Lennox Coleby for the applicant

Crystal Newman and Allecia Delancey for respondent

Bail - Application for bail – Armed robbery – Whether bail should be granted – Circumstances to be considered in bail applications – Seriousness of the offence – Hepburn v. The Attorney General SC Cr App & CAIS No. 276 of 2014Hurnam v. The State Privy Council Appeal No. 53 of 2004.

Hilton, J.

The applicant is a Bahamian Citizen. He is 22 years old and prior to his remand was employed as a water taxi operator.


The applicant is charged with Armed Robbery and has applied for bail on the grounds that:

  • a) He is presumed innocent under the provisions of the constitution.

  • b) The evidence against him is very weak and he vigorously asserts his innocence and will appear for his trial.

  • c) He has no previous convictions but has pending matters for shop breaking and abetment of unlawful sexual intercourse.

  • d) The facility of having reporting conditions and/or electronic monitoring device are adequate means to ensure his whereabouts at all times and sufficient safeguards to prevent any attempt at absconding.


The respondent has objected to bail on the following grounds:

  • a) The charge of Armed Robbery is a serious charge for which bail should not be granted unless there is unreasonable delay.

  • b) The penalty the applicant is liable to suffer (if convicted) is severe and this may give the applicant a strong incentive to abscond or otherwise obstruct the course of justice.

  • c) The evidence against the applicant is cogent and strong and there has been no unreasonable delay

  • d) The applicant was charged with this offence while he is presently on bail for a shop breaking offence and is not a fit candidate for bail.


In determining what is the appropriate decision in this application the Court has reviewed the relevant sections of the Bail Act as amended and the case authorities.


The 2014 amendment to the Bail Act states:

“At the hearing of an application for bail, it shall be the burden of the applicant to satisfy the Court that bail should be granted.”


However, having regard to the general right to liberty and the presumption of innocence as guaranteed by Articles 19 (3) and 20 (1) and (2) of the constitution the respondent has an onus to satisfy the Court that the applicant ought not to be granted bail.


In determining what are the circumstances to be considered in bail applications apt guidance has been given by Dame Allen P. in the Bahamas Court of Appeal decision of Hepburn v. The Attorney General S C Cr App of CAIS No. 276 of 2014 where at paras: 7–11 she stated:

  • “7. The objective of detaining an accused person is to secure his appearance for his trial and to ensure he is available to be punished if found guilty. Indeed, if a person's presence at trial can be reasonably ensured otherwise than by his detention, it would be unjust and unfair to deprive him of his liberty.

  • 8. Moreover, even if a person's appearance could not be ensured, he is entitled to be released either unconditionally or on reasonable conditions if he is not put to his trial within a reasonable time, or if it is unlikely that he will be so tried.

  • 9. Accordingly, bail is the right of a person charged with a criminal offence to be released from custody on his undertaking to appear for his trial at a specified time, and to comply with any conditions that the Court may think fit to impose.

  • 10. The relevant law on bail is found in articles 19 (3), 20 (2) (a) and 28 of the Constitution, and in sections 3, and 4 of the Bail Act 1994, as amended (“the Act”). It is immediately apparent from a reading of those provisions that two distinct rights to bail are given, namely, a general right to an un-convicted person to be released on bail unless there is sufficient reason (Part A of the...

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