Innocent v Commissioner of Police

CourtCourt of Appeal (Bahamas)
JudgeAllen, P.
Docket NumberMCC App. No. 41 of 2010
Date10 December 2010

Court of Appeal

Allen, P.; Newman, J.A.; John, J.A.

MCC App. No. 41 of 2010

Commissioner of Police

The appellant appears pro se.

Mr. Eucal Bonaby with Mr. Terry Archer for the respondent.

Criminal Practice and Procedure - Appeal — Conviction — housebreaking and stealing — insufficient fingerprint evidence — failure of the magistrate to afford the appellant the opportunity to make a defence — due process — fair trial — Appeal allowed — Section 204 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Allen, P.

This appeal came on for hearing on 10 December 2010 after being adjourned on 8 December 2010 due to the absence of a full transcript. Having reviewed the full transcript and having heard Counsel for the Respondent who conceded the appeal, we allowed the appeal and set aside the conviction and sentence. We promised to give reasons for our decision, this we now do.


The appellant was convicted on 12 February 2010 by a magistrate, of one count of Housebreaking and one count of Stealing, for which he was sentenced respectively to imprisonment for a term of three years and one year to run concurrently.


The convictions followed a very short trial in which four witnesses gave evidence including the complainant, who testified that the back door to her kitchen had been broken into on 20 January 2009 and a number of items stolen, including a Sony Vaio laptop, a 32 inch Vizio flat screen television and items of jewellery.


The further evidence of the incident came from a witness who said he was passing the complainant's home and saw a man running to a silver car with a television set, but gave no evidence of the identity of the man he saw.


Assistant Superintendent Clifford Ferguson testified he compared the appellant's known fingerprints, rolled by police constable Nelson Miller in April 2009 with the “fingerprint lift that I received from Corporal Darrell” and determined that “the finger mark and the fingerprint lift was made by the same person.”


Corporal Darrell did not give evidence and there was therefore no evidence connecting the lifted print, to the scene of the crime. In the absence of any other evidence connecting the appellant, we were of the view that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the convictions.


More disturbing however is the fact that the learned magistrate, after determining that a sufficient case had been made out against the appellant to require him...

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