Defendant serves year in jail with no trial date

| 22/02/2011

(CNS): A man accused of accessory to murder who has been remanded in jail for almost a year without a trial date has been refused bail. The defence attorney representing Craig Johnson who was in court to hear if a trial date would be set on Friday morning said it was unacceptable when again no date could be given. Anthony Akiwumi said that through no fault of his own, his client remained in jail with no idea when his case would be heard facing continued uncertainty. Johnson’s trial date has not yet been set as a result of problems with the murder trial relating to the crime he is charged with. There are three defendants in that case and as one was only recently indicted and has no lawyer the date for that case is also in question.

Akiwumi pointed out that despite the crown’s difficulties with having multiple defendants in the murder case it still had a duty to ensure delays don’t occur in the process of justice and the time his client was in jail without any certainty regarding his own trial was unacceptable. He pointed out that while there were custody limits in other jurisdictions when trials are not set that was not the case in Cayman.

Johnson is charged with being an accessory to murder in the shooting of Marcos Gauman, who was gunned down in Maliwinas Way, in West Bay, last March and the crown will be bringing the murder case first before trying Johnson. With three defendants all arrested at different times and all struggling with legal representation the murder trial date currently set for April is expected to be vacated shortly in favour of a trial later in the year. As a result this means Johnson cannot be given a date for his own case to be heard.

Justice Marva McDonald-Bishop, the judge dealing with the mention list in Grand Court on Friday, said that she did not think Johnson had been on remand for an inordinate amount of time at this point, and given the charges related to such a serious offence she said she must balance the wider public interest and remanded him in custody.

Although accessory to murder is not listed as an offence where bail should not be granted in law the judge said she believed its absence from the schedule was more of an oversight given that it was as serious as any other offence relating to assisting in a murder. However, she warned that if there did come a time when the defendant was remanded for an unacceptable period without a trial date the situation would be reconsidered and Akiwumi should raise the issue again on behalf of his client.


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