– 116 to be heard in June sessionDuring the 2016 April Criminal Assizes in Demerara, a total of 58 cases were disposed of over the two month period before the session came to an end on Friday when the goal delivery was done by Justice Navindra Singh.The April session began with Justice Singh, Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry and Justice Jo-Ann Barlow presiding during the two months at the High Court in Demerara.A total 163 cases were listed to be heard, of which 58 matters were disposed of. However, only 31 of these cases received attention in Court while the remaining 27 matters were nolle prosequi by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Chambers.The April Assizes resulted in nine guilty pleas, three guilty verdicts by jury, eight not guilty verdicts by jury, eight formal verdicts of not guilty, two hung jury and one case was withdrawn by the trial judge.Justice Singh completed a total of sixteen matters. In one case for the offence of manslaughter, the accused pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine years imprisonment. Another matter for the offence of Sexual Activity with A child Family Member saw the accused being found guilty by the jury and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.In one of the two cases for the offence of attempt to commit murder, the virtual complainant (VC) went into the witness box and testified that he no longer wanted to proceed with the matter and caused the trial judge to direct the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty. The other case resulted in the accused pleading guilty to the alternative count of Causing Grievous Bodily Harm and was sentenced to five years imprisonment.Additionally, in one of the six murder cases, the trial judge up held a no case submission and directed the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty. In the other five Murder trials, all the accused pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter and were sentenced respectively to eight years imprisonment, nine years imprisonment, fourteen years imprisonment and fifteen years imprisonment. In two of these five matters the accused were each sentenced to eight years.Justin Singh also heard three matters for the offence of carnal knowledge of girl under 1-5 years, in which the VCs went into the witness box and testified that they did not wish to proceed with the evidence, as such he direct the juries to return formal verdicts of not guilty.While in a rape case, the trial judge upheld a no case submission and directed the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty. Two other separate cases for the offence of Rape of A child under 16 Years, saw both accused being acquitted after the jury returned not guilty verdicts.Meanwhile, Justice Sewnarine-Beharry completed seven matters. A carnal knowledge of girl between 15 and 16 years case resulted in the accused was acquitted after the jury returned a majority verdict of 10 to two not guilty. In another case with the similar offence, the VC testified that she did not wish to proceed with the evidence and caused the trial judge to direct the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty.There were two murder cases heard by the trial judge and in the first one, the jury returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty for the accused while the second ended in a hung judge after the panel failed to reach a verdict. The accused was remanded back to prison to await a new trial.The accused in the trial for the offence of rape of a child under 16 years was acquitted after the jury returned a not guilty verdict. In addition, two accused in the two separate matters for the offence of manslaughter were also acquitted by the jury.On the other hand, Justice Jo-Ann Barlow completed eight matters and in one of the five Murder cases, the accused was sentenced to life imprisonment after the jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty. This prisoner would be eligible for parole after serving 25 years in jail.In two other murder trials, both accused pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of Manslaughter and were respectively sentenced to 13 years imprisonment and 14 years 9 months imprisonment. Another murder trial ended with a hung during as such a retrial was ordered.The remaining Murder trial in which two accused were indicted, saw the number one accused being found not guilty, while the number two accused was unanimously found guilty and sentenced at the Court’s pleasure. Trial Judge Jo-Ann Barlow ordered that he undergoes counselling and to participate in academic classes in prison. This prisoner will be evaluated in April 2018.A case of wounding with intent was withdrawn from the jury by Justice Barlow after the caution statement (CS) which was admitted into evidence revealed the accused acted in self-defence. The jury was then directed by the trial judge to return a formal verdict of not guilty.In a rape of a child under 16 years matter, the victim informed the Court that she did not wish to proceed with the matter as such the jury was directed to return a formal verdict of not guilty. The accused in a Rape matter was also acquitted after he was found not guilty.Moreover, of 27 matters nolle prosequi by the DPP, the main witnesses could not be located in 18 of the cases. These were all old cases which were committed more than ten years ago. In the remaining nine cases, the VC’s indicated in writing that they did not wish to proceed with the matters.The June 2016 Criminal Session in Demerara will commence on Tuesday with 116 cases listed to be heard. Justice Singh, Justice Barlow and Justice Sewnarine-Beharry will preside over the first month of this session, following which Justice James Bovell-Drakes will join the judge’s panel from July to September. He will be replacing Justice Barlow.