Murder trial delayed

| 27/01/2010

Cayman Islands news, Grand Cayman headline news, Court news, murder trial, Estella Scott-Roberts(CNS): Issues of representation have again delayed the start of the trial of Kirkland Henry and Larry Ricketts for the murder of Estella Scott-Roberts. Although Solicitor General Cheryll Richards QC was expected to open the crown’s case against the two men this morning before Chief Justice Anthony Smellie in Grand Court one, the trial was once again postponed when the court was told that the recently appointed lead counsel for Ricketts had come off-record.

Before a crowded court room, Gordon Aspden instructed by Priestleys explained that Lee Freeman, junior counsel for Ricketts, had been taken ill, and furthermore, lead counsel Delano St Aubyn Harrison QC had, for professional reasons, withdrawn from the case.

He said the application for his removal had been granted by Justice Charles Quin and Aspden told the court that fresh lead counsel was expected to arrive on island shortly. The attorney explained to the chief justice that the defence would be ready to represent Ricketts by Monday, 1 February, if the court was willing to adjourn the proceedings until then.

He did not provide the details of why Harrison had left the case but said he knew why. He also observed that he was well aware that it was fifteen months since the defendants were charged with the crime and remanded in custody. As a result, Aspden assured the court that everything was being done to ensure the defence would be prepared for trial next week.

Ian MacLean Bourne QC, who is appearing as lead counsel for Henry, said that while he believed Aspden was more than capable of taking the case without lead counsel, he was willing to agree to the application provided the trial did go ahead on Monday, 1 February. He told the court that his client had also been on remand for more than fifteen months and was anxious to have the trial go ahead.

The chief justice said he understood the difficulties faced by Aspden and that the law required “equality of arms”. He was therefore willing to grant the application and adjourn the trial till 1 February as arrangements had been made for lead counsel to take the case. He also agreed to do what he could to help expedite the necessary work permit for the new QC.

Since the arrest of the two Jamaican nationals two weeks after the body of Scott-Roberts was discovered in her own burnt out car in the Barkers area of West Bay, Ricketts has been plagued with representation issues, with a number of counsel going on and off record for the defendant. Harrison arrived on island to begin work on the case just a few days ago and was scheduled to have been sworn in at the Cayman Island Bar yesterday but instead cited professional reasons to discontinue.

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