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Privy Council Quashes 25-Year Sentence In Manslaughter Case

Moss’ February 10 substantive hearing date was set yesterday morning when he made his appearance before the Court of Appeal after the Privy Council sent the matter back last November to the appellate court to allow arguments to be heard on the 
appropriate sentence to be handed down for the 1999 killing of Samantha Forbes.

Moss has retained Sonia Timothy to argue on the appropriate sentence while prosecutor Neil Braithwaite will respond for the Crown. Justices Anita Allen, Stanley John and Neville Adderley are presiding over the matter.

In 1999, the partially nude body of Samantha Forbes was found on the Emerald Bay golf course in Grand Bahama. Her head had been nearly severed by a laceration to the throat and neck.

Five years later, Moss was convicted and sentenced to death on April 6, 2004 after the Supreme Court found him guilty of killing Ms. Forbes.

Keith Lotmore, Moss’ co-accused at the time, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to six years in prison.

Both men contested their fates to the appellate court which ruled that Moss’ murder verdict “cannot stand”, as the trial judge Stephen Isaacs, had failed to direct the jury in regards to Moss being intoxicated at the time the crime was committed.

Then Chief Justice Sir Burton Hall said that the absence of that particular direction was “fatal” and that it denied the opportunity of being acquitted of murder instead of being convicted of manslaughter. Sir Burton said that if Moss was under the influence of alcohol, as testified by two witnesses, then the jury should have been directed to take into consideration the question of the intent to kill on Moss’ part.
He explained that certain offences like murder required the specific intent to kill.
In regards to Lotmore, the Chief Justice ruled that the verdict stands, as the evidence heard in the trial had shown that the appellant had joined Moss in a “common design” to cause “at least unlawful harm” to Ms. Forbes.

Moss, meanwhile, was granted a reprieve as the court substituted his death sentence with a conviction of manslaughter and a jail sentence of 25 years.

However, this too was appealed to the London-based Privy Council which heard arguments in October 2013 that the appellate court handed down the sentence without hearing arguments from either side on an appropriate sentence.

The key submission on Moss’ behalf was that it was a fundamental breach of natural justice to pass sentence without giving a defendant the opportunity to be heard.

It was further argued that 25 years was excessive considering that the co-accused received a six-year term.

In November 2013, while abstaining from offering a view on an appropriate sentence for the crime, the Privy Council ruled that Moss was entitled to be heard on sentencing and remitted the matter back to the appellate court accordingly.

By: Lamech Johnson

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