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Judicial CP - April 1998

The Gleaner, Kingston, 28 April 1998

Court of Appeal to decide on flogging

By Barbara Gayle, Staff Reporter

A five man panel of the Court of Appeal is to decide next month whether or not judges should order flogging for persons convicted of certain crimes.

Two inmates, who were each sentenced in separate cases to receive 12 strokes with the tamarind switch, are contending that the sentences imposed on them constitute inhuman and degrading punishment which is prohibited under section 17(1) of the Constitution.

A five-man panel rarely sits and does so only when there are particular points of law to be determined; conflicting decisions or when there is the necessity to overrule a decision.

The panel will consist of the President of the Court of Appeal the Hon. Carl Rattray, Mr. Justice Forte, Mr. Justice Patterson, Mr. Justice Bingham and Mr. Justice Paul Harrison. The appeal is expected to begin on May 4.

The long legal debate over flogging began as far back as August 1994 when Mr. Justice Patterson ordered that 23-year-old Errol Pryce should receive six strokes of the tamarind switch for severely wounding his common-law wife's mother. It was the first time in 25 years that such a sentence was being imposed, although the law makes provisions for judges to order flogging.

Mr. Justice Patterson's decision triggered widespread public debate, with some people saying that flogging could help to reduce the high crime rate while others argued that such a sentence was brutal.

However, since Errol Pryce's sentence, other judges have been ordering flogging for prisoners.

The two men, who are appealing against the sentences of flogging are Noel Samuda, 30, labourer, of Moravia, Manchester and Walford Ferguson, 32, farmer, of Lyssons, St. Thomas. They were both sentenced by Mr. Justice Pitter.

Samuda was convicted in October 1996 of of charges of burglary and larceny, illegal possession of firearm and rape. He was jailed for 15 years and ordered flogged. Samuda lost his appeal against his convictions and has only been granted leave to appeal against his sentence.

Ferguson, was convicted in December, 1995 of nine charges, including four rape charges and was jailed for a total of 25 years in addition to 12 strokes of the tamarind switch. The incident took place at Lyssons at about 11 p.m. on April 10, 1994 when Ferguson and other men entered a house there and committed acts of rape and robbery. They also took the rape victims to Wareika Hill, Kingston, where they were eventully released.

Attorney-at-law Fara Brown is representing Ferguson who is appealing for the first time against convictions and sentences.

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