High Court Judge Navindra Singh has ordered the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack, SC, to present the indictment of the State against Lennox Wayne who is accused of murder within 30 days from today. In a ruling handed down on Friday, the High Court Judge, in finding that Wayne’s constitutional right to a fair trial within a reasonable time has not been infringed, refused his request for a permanent stay of the murder charge against him.
On February 25, 2021, the murder accused through his lawyers Nigel Hughes and Ronald Daniels, filed a constitutional motion in the High Court in which he complained that his constitutional right to a fair trial within a reasonable time has been infringed by the undue delay in his retrial.
On September 3, 2014, Wayne called “Two Colours”, was arrested and jointly charged with taxi drover Melroy Doris on September 8, 2014, with the murder of Ashmini Hariram, the 19-year-old Lusignan, East Coast Demerara cosmetologist who was shot and killed on July 10, 2014, just after she disembarked a minibus in her village.
A Preliminary Inquiry was thereafter conducted and at its conclusion, Wayne and Doris were committed to stand trial for murder at the Demerara Criminal Assizes on November 16, 2015. On February 9, 2017, both men were indicted to stand trial for the offence of murder.
On April 6, 2017, Jo-Ann Justice Barlow commenced their trial which ended in a mistrial on May 2, 2017, because the jury was unable to arrive at a unanimous verdict. As a result, Wayne and Doris were further remanded to prison pending a retrial. Wayne’s claimed period of delay of his retrial is from the end of this trial in May 2017, to the filing of the motion on February 25, 2021.
Justice Singh found that the period of possible delay is 33 months given the fact that the retrial could not have been conducted until the next sitting of the Assizes which would have been June 2017. The Judge also noted the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in the suspension of jury trials in March 2020 and the fact that the DPP averred that she was prepared to proceed with the trial in January 2021.
According to the High Court Judge, he had to assess the conduct of Wayne to determine whether he waived his right for any or all of the delay period.
“In this regard, the Court finds that [Wayne] in indicating his willingness to plead guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter and actively engaging in discussions about such a plea with the DPP, effectively waived any period of delay prior to such indication,” Justice Singh held.
Counsel for Wayne submitted that they were ready to proceed with the trial during the time that discussions regarding their client pleading guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter and therefore the DPP was still charged with the responsibility of proceeding with the retrial.
However, Justice Singh found that this was not a tenable argument since there is a process involved in the preparation of a trial, least of all, notifying the witnesses of their obligation of being available to testify and therefore the DPP cannot be expected to be in a state of preparedness to instantly commence.
“At the time that the DPP was prepared to proceed with the trial in January 2021, [Wayne’s] indication of willingness to plead guilty to the lesser included offence of manslaughter and therefore forego a trial is diametrically opposed to his claim that his right to a trial within a reasonable time has been infringed, particularly when he shortly thereafter instituted this [motion].”
Having regards to the foregoing, Justice Singh held that Wayne’s right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time as provided for in Article 144 of the Constitution of Guyana has not been infringed.
Moreover, the murder accused basis of requesting a permanent stay of the murder charge against was his claim that there has been an unreasonable delay in the prosecution of his retrial. However, the High Court Judge having concluded that there was no delay, said that there was no justifiable reason for granting a stay of prosecution of the pending charge for the offence of murder against Wayne.
“As long as a fair trial is possible it is in the public interest that cases should be tried,” Justice Singh noted.
In the circumstances, the Judge refused the murder accused’s application for a permanent stay of prosecution. Wayne’s constitutional motion was therefore dismissed and he was ordered to pay $200,000 in costs to the Attorney General who was a named respondent in the action. Justice Singh further ordered the DPP to present the murder indictment against Wayne within 30 days of his ruling.
On March 11, 2021, Doris appeared before Justice Brassington Reynolds and pleaded guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter. The confessed killer was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for the crime after the Court considered the time he already spent in pre-trial custody among other factors.
Wayne is the main witness in the case of former veteran policeman Leyon Lindo, who was in 2017, committed to stand trial for allegedly conspiring to murder businessman Mohamed Khan, whose decapitated corpse was found at Cummings Lodge, Greater Georgetown in 2015.
According to the charge against Lindo, who was previously attached to the Tactical Services Unit (TSU), between July 8 and July 10, 2014, at Eve Leary, Georgetown, he conspired with Wayne, the alleged hitman to murder Khan. Lindo’s case is yet to be called for trial.