Three win right to appeal their convictions after jury selection rule changes
Two murderers and a third man jailed for attempted murder have won the right to appeal their convictions in what was said to be a potential landmark decision.
The ruling by the Court of Appeal yesterday came in the wake of changes to the law on jury selection procedures which were found to favour the prosecution.
Fresh appeals for Quincy Brangman, Khyri Smith-Williams and LeVeck Roberts will be heard during the next sitting of the Court of Appeal in March next year.
Justice of Appeal Sir Maurice Kay ruled: “The applicants were convicted of very serious offences a considerable time ago.
“Each pursued conventional appeals to this court but their convictions were upheld, and they are now effectively seeking to re- open their appeals as a result of recent legal developments.
“The circumstances are therefore highly unusual.”
But Sir Maurice ruled that it was in the public interest for hearings to go ahead.
He said: “At that hearing, everything will be at large – all legal arguments and factual issues.
Accordingly, we grant leave for the three appeals to be reopened.”
Smith-Williams was jailed in 2018 for the 2011 slaying of Colford Ferguson and Roberts was jailed for life in 2015 for the double murder of Ricco Furbert and Haile Outerbridge.
Brangman is serving a 25 year sentence for the attempted murder of Nathan Darrell in 2010.
All three men lost earlier appeals that were launched after their convictions.
But on Wednesday lawyers for the trio appeared before the Court of Appeal to ask that the three be allowed to have their appeals reopened because of recent changes to rules governing the jury selection process.
Prosecutors were in the past allowed to challenge an unlimited number of jurors selected to sit on a trial, but defence lawyers could only challenge three.
But the practice was found to be in breach of the Constitution in June after it was argued it gave the prosecution an unfair advantage and could be used to stack a jury in its favour.
The Court of Appeal panel agreed with lawyers who argued that, in each trial, prosecutors had excused more than three jury members without giving a good reason.
Sir Maurice said the appellants had reached “the numbers threshold”.
He added: “It does give the appearance of the prosecution playing a privileged part in the selection of the jury.”
Victoria Greening, who represented Roberts, said: “It’s extremely unusual for convicted persons to apply to reopen their right to appeal having already appealed in the past and it’s even more unusual to be granted an appeal out of time.”
Ms Greening said that people normally had 21 days to lodge an appeal against a conviction.
She added: “In the case of Mr Roberts, he’s appealing five years out of time because of new developments, because of changes to the law which we say shows that there was a substantial injustice at his trial.
“What’s noteworthy about today’s decision is that being given permission to re-open an appeal will have huge implications for anyone who’s been convicted in Bermuda.
“There are multiple steps to this appeal but could be the beginning of a landmark decision.”
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