Worst Of The Worst', 'Rarest Of The Rare

AuthorDerence A. Rolle Davis
The Law: The Social and Economic Effect on The Bahamas 2000 - 2020
The year 2011 found The Bahamas in a state of surprise and
bewilderment. A declaration from the country’s highest court, the Privy Council
in the case of Maxo Tido v. The Queen [2011] UKPC 16, left the citizens, from the
judiciary to the ordinary man on the street, with a jaw dropping motion. The use
of the words “the worst of the worst and the rarest of the rare” in that case, and
the application to which those words were to be used spurred a distaste and a
call for action from many social quarters.
The following cases demonstrate a progression of the law on the issue of
the mandatory death sentence and the culmination of the term by the Privy
The Legal Effect
Bowe v. The Queen (2006) UKPC 10 was heard before the Privy Council. It
was decided in that case that section 312 of the Penal Code of The Bahamas
(now section 291) should be accepted as a discretionary and not a mandatory
sentence of death. The matter was sent back to the Supreme Court for
appropriate sentences. 29
Simmon & Greene v. R (2006) UKPC 19 was another case heard before the
Privy Council in which it was found that the mandatory death sentence is in fact
discretionary. This case involved the approach to be taken in cases where a
confession is obtained in breach of the constitutional right to have counsel. The
approach is that the defendant has the right to have counsel, but if he chooses not
to, it is not damning. The death sentence was overturned and the case remitted to
the Supreme Court for sentencing.
Since these cases were decided the legislature has not sought to amend the
penalty for murder. However, the issue of whether death should be imposed in
cases of murder was unsettled. The society accordingly felt the hopelessness of
the system to adequately punish those who sought to run afoul of the law. No
29 Other Laws passed during this year are: Privatisation of Bahamas Telecommunications
Limited Act, 2011, Law Reform & Revision (Misc. Amendment) Act, 2011, Securities Industry
Act, 2011, Customs Management Act, 2011, Straw Market Authority Act, 2011, Interpretation &
General Clauses (Amendment) Act, 2011, Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 2011, Criminal
Procedure Code (Amendment) Act, 2011 (1 & 2), Evidence (Amendment) Act, 2011, Bail
(Amendment) Act, 2011, Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act, 2011, Criminal Evidence (Witness
Anonymity) Act, 2011, Court of Appeal Amendment Act, 2011, and the Sexual Offences
(Amendment) Act, 2011.

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