Robinson v The Attorney General

JurisdictionBahamas
CourtCourt of Appeal (Bahamas)
JudgeAllen, P.
Judgment Date03 June 2014
Neutral CitationBS 2014 CA 91
Date03 June 2014
Docket NumberSCCrApp No. 207 of 2013

Court of Appeal

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

SCCrApp No. 207 of 2013

Robinson
and
The Attorney General
Appearances:

Mr. Murrio Ducille counsel for the appellant.

Mr. Neil Brathwaite counsel for the respondent.

Constitutional Law - Appeal — Possession of dangerous Drugs — Mandatory sentence — Trial judge dismissed the appellant's constitutional motion on the basis that an alternative remedy — Proviso — Whether the present case was an appropriate one for the application of the Article 28 proviso — Appeal allowed and remit back to the Supreme Court.

Allen, P.
1

This is an appeal from the decision of learned Senior Justice Jon Isaacs delivered on August 6th, 2013; wherein he dismissed the appellant's constitutional motion on the basis that an alternative remedy, namely an appeal to this Court, was available to the appellant.

2

The facts of the case are simple and unfortunately all too common in The Bahamas. In early February 2013, while on patrol, officers of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, acting on information, stopped and searched a vehicle in the area of Bartlet Hill, Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama. As a result of the search a total of 14 pounds of marijuana was found. The appellant, along with six other persons, was arrested and charged with Possession of Dangerous Drugs with Intent to Supply. At trial the appellant eventually admitted that the drugs found in an Addidas bag were placed there by him for transport to the United States.

3

The appellant was subsequently sentenced to the mandatory minimum of four years and advised by the magistrate that 1. he had a right to appeal to this Court and 2. that this Court has the discretion to reduce his sentence.

4

The appellant subsequently filed, in the Supreme Court, an Originating Notice of Motion for the following reliefs:–

  • “1. A declaration that Article 17 of The Bahamas constitution which affords the applicant the right not to be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment has been infringed;

  • 2. A declaration that the imposition of the mandatory minimum sentence per the November 2011 amendments or any imposition of a mandatory minimum sentence on any individual is unconstitutional; and

  • 3. That the sentence be quashed and the applicant properly resentenced given all the circumstances unique to him.”

5

Upon hearing the arguments of both the appellant and the crown and examining the relevant law the learned trial judge determined at paragraphs 18, 19 and 23 as follows:

  • “18. The constitutionality of the mandatory minimum sentence of four years has been challenged in the Courts. Mr. DuciIle argued against its constitutionality unsuccessfully in the case of Andrew Davis v. COP [2012] 2 BHS J. No. 40. I am bound to follow the decision of the Court of Appeal so even if I was to consider whether or not the amendment to the Act breached any of the fundamental rights Articles, I must arrive at a conclusion against the applicant.

  • 19. I return to the matter of alternative relief. It is apparent that the applicant could have appealed his sentence to the Court of Appeal and that Court could have reduced his sentence if warranted. Moreover the Court could have entertained any constitutional applications he wished to made. I hold firmly to the view that bifurcated appeals should be discouraged and the dicta of their Lordships in US Government v. Frederick Nigel Bowe should be followed, that is all matters should be dealt with at one time.

  • 23. I am satisfied that an adequate alternative remedy was available to the applicant via an appeal to the Court of Appeal against the severity of his sentence. I have come to the conclusion that the respondent's objection must be sustained and the application must be dismissed because the applicant had a statutory right of appeal to the Court of appeal which could have addressed the severity of his sentence.”

6

On appeal, Mr. Ducille, counsel for the appellant argued that the learned trial judge erred in law when he ruled that he must dismiss the application as the appellant had an adequate alternative remedy available to him via the Court of Appeal. The appellant further submitted that the learned trial judge erred in law when he did not rule on the...

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