Cooper v Attorney General

JurisdictionBahamas
CourtSupreme Court
JudgeHilton, J.
Judgment Date04 Sep 2017
Docket NumberCri/bal/00453/2012

Supreme Court

Hilton, J.

Cri/bal/00453/2012

Cooper
and
Attorney General
Appearances:

Brazard Humes along with Alex Morley for applicant

Raquel Whymms for respondent

Criminal practice and procedure - Bail application — Murder — Whether defendant would appear to take his trial — Seriousness of the offence — Strength of the evidence — Safety of the public — Public order — Murder rate.

Hilton, J.
1

The applicant is a Bahamian citizen. He is 21 years of age.

2

The applicant is charged with Murder and had applied for Bail on the principle grounds that:

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

  • b) While he has previous convictions for causing harm they would have occurred when he was a juvenile.

  • c) The evidence against him is contradictory and weak and he poses no threat to society and will appear for his trial.

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

3

The Respondent has objected to the grant of bail on the following grounds:

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

  • b) The evidence against the applicant is strong and cogent.

  • c) The penalty the applicant is likely to suffer (if convicted) is severe and gives the applicant a strong incentive to abscond.

  • d) As some of the prosecution witnesses are known to the applicant the Respondent fears that they will be interfered with or, worse, that his release on bail might result in retaliation and that for the purpose of public safety and order and the safety of the applicant he should not be granted bail.

  • e) There has been no unreasonable delay.

4

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.

5

The proper test of whether bail should be granted or refused is whether it is probable that the defendant will appear to take his trial. Bail is not to be withheld as a punishment. In the case of Jonathan Armbrister v. A.G. S.C.Cr. App.No. 145 of 2011 John J-A. at paragraph 11, 12 and 13 gave a review of the applicable principles. At paragraph 11 he stated.

“A good starting point in reviewing the principles applicable where an (applicant) has been charged but not yet put on trial is the statement of Lord Bingham of Cornhill in Hurnam v. The state where he said at paragraph 1,

‘In Mauritius as elsewhere the Courts are routinely called upon to consider whether an un-convicted suspect or defendant should be released on bail, subject to conditions pending his trial. Such decisions very often raise questions of importance both to the individual suspect or defendant and to the community as a whole. The interests of the individual is of course to remain at liberty, unless or until he is convicted of a crime sufficiently serious to justify depriving him of his liberty. Any loss of liberty before that time, particularly if he is acquitted or never tried, will inevitably prejudice him and in many cases, his livelihood and his family; but the community has a countervailing interest in seeking to ensure that the course of justice is not...

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