CCJ restores conviction and sentence but criticizes procedural flaws in Belize case


Port of Spain, Trinidad. The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) today ordered that a conviction and sentence of 5 years for causing dangerous harm imposed on Mr. Gilbert Henry be restored but noted that, as Mr. Henry had already served his time, he would not be imprisoned or face any other sanction. Mr. Henry’s previous conviction had been quashed by Belize’s Court of Appeal in a written judgment delivered on 16 June 2017, reversing an oral judgment it had given earlier in this case.

In 2008, Mr. Gilbert Henry was charged with attempted murder after he was accused of stabbing Mr. Ellis Taibo. His trial began almost 4 years later. After the trial judge’s summation, the jury deliberated for 2 hours and twenty-six minutes before asking for further directions. The jury then retired again and deliberated for a further 8 minutes before returning with a verdict of not guilty of attempted murder but guilty of causing dangerous harm.

Mr. Henry challenged his conviction and sentence before the Court of Appeal of Belize, arguing that substantial delays in the trial and appellate processes were in breach of his constitutional right to a fair trial within a reasonable time, among other issues. On 22 March 2017, the Court of Appeal delivered an oral judgment dismissing the appeal and affirming Mr. Henry’s conviction and sentence. The court later delivered a written judgment on 16 June 2017 which made no mention of the earlier oral judgment…[+]