The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal has affirmed the conviction and sentence of two men who were found guilty of murder, and who, therefore, must continue serving the sentences imposed by a High Court Judge.
Isaiah Benjamin, Edwin Gomez and Jerome Benjamin were jointly charged, tried and convicted for the murder of Lyndon Isaac on September 24, 2010. However, only Isaiah and Gomez had appealed the judge’s ruling.
At the sentencing hearing, the Judge imposed a 30-year prison sentence on Gomez, with a review after 23 years. Isaiah was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment to be reviewed after 18 years.
The men filed several grounds of appeal, but the main substance focused on whether the judge had erred in rejecting the no-case submission made by defence attorneys and in leaving the issue of joint enterprise to the jury.
Wendel Robinson, Isaiah’s counsel, also submitted that – in deciding whether there was a case to answer – the trial judge applied the wrong test as to what constitutes joint enterprise in murder.
However, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Anthony Armstrong countered, saying that the Judge had used the correct test: that is, the Galbraith Test.
The limb of the Galbraith Test put forward by the appellants during the no-case submission hearing was that there was no evidence; therefore, the Judge was duty-bound to stop the case.
But Armstrong asserted that, at the time, the Judge had to consider that the prosecution’s case was one of joint enterprise and that Isaiah had been present to effect the escape.
After hearing from the defence attorneys, who included Sherfield Bowen, representing Gomez, and Crown Counsel Shannon Jones- Gittens, who appeared along with the DPP, the Court of Appeal issued a 19-page judgment.
It ruled that Benjamin’s appeal against conviction and sentence is dismissed and the conviction and sentence affirmed.
Gomez’ appeal against conviction was withdrawn during the appeal hearing, the appeal against sentence was dismissed, and his conviction and sentence were affirmed.
Reports are that the duo, along with Benjamin and another person, went to T’s Natural Bamboo Bar to commit robbery. All the men were inside a vehicle being driven by Isaiah, and they were masked and armed.
The men reportedly entered the bar and one of them discharged a firearm close to a patron, George Lewis, whom two of the assailants then dragged outside. One of them patted him down, took some steps backward, and fired the gun.
Lewis, the owner of a licensed firearm, returned fire, hitting Jerome. At this point, Gomez and Isaiah reportedly ran back to the vehicle and sped off, leaving the wounded man.
However, they later returned in the vehicle and picked him up. It was while leaving the scene that Gomez discharged two shots from within the car, killing a pedestrian, Lyndon Isaac.
Gomez admitted to discharging the firearm that killed Isaac. However, Isaiah said he had remained in the vehicle, was not aware of the robbery, and denied any participation in the joint unlawful enterprise.
Justices Davidson Kelvin Baptiste and Mario Michel, as well as Paul Webster, an acting Justice of Appeal, heard the matter.