Murder, sexual offences dominate list of cases heard in 2020

End of year statistics released by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) shows that murder and sexual offences dominated the list of cases heard across the High Courts in the three counties. With regards to the sexual offences cases, females continue to amount for the majority of victims.
During 2020, 101 cases were disposed of; 83 of them received attention in the High Court, while 18 were nolle prosequi [abandoned] by the DPP. According to the Office of the DPP, of the 83 cases, 62 were presented at the Demerara Assizes, 15 at the Berbice Assizes and six at the Essequibo Assizes.
There were 63 cases for murder, three cases for attempt to commit murder, 15 cases for sexual offences and two cases for manslaughter. There were 12 convictions, 53 guilty pleas, nine formal verdicts of not guilty, five not guilty verdicts by jury, five hung juries, three aborted trials, one quashed indictment and 18 cases were nolle prosequi.
Meanwhile, the DPP also released statistics for the October session of the Demerara  Criminal Assizes which commenced on October 06, 2020. Of the 369 cases listed, only 36 were disposed of. Of these 36 matters, the DPP presented 34 in the High Court of Demerara while two matters were nolle prosequi in writing by the DPP.
Of these 34 matters presented, 33 were for murder and one for rape of a child under 16 Years. There was a total of 39 accused persons in these 34 matters. Concerning these 39 persons, there were 28 guilty pleas, four convictions, five formal verdicts of not guilty and two not guilty verdicts by jury.
Meanwhile, the Berbice October 2020 Criminal Assizes commenced on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, after COVID-safe arrangements were put in place for jury trials. Ninety-six cases were listed to be heard. Of the 96 cases, only six were completed. These six cases were all for the offence of murder in which the accused pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter and were sentenced. The Berbice Criminal Assizes remains in progress and continues until February 02, 2021.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Essequibo October 2020 Criminal Assizes did not sit. The necessary arrangements are being made for Covid-safe trials to commence in January 2021.
Moreover, since the establishment of the Sexual Offences Court in 2017 to 2020, a total of 131 sexual offences cases have been tried in all three counties.
Convictions totalled 61, with 40 not guilty verdicts, 12 guilty pleas, 47 guilty verdicts, 18 hung juries, 18 acquittals and four aborted matters. This is according to stats released by the Judiciary of Guyana in November 2020. In some cases, the accused person appeared before the court indicted for more than one counts of the offence, thus having a conviction for a count or counts and or an acquittal or acquittals for the other.
Sentences for such convictions ranged from the minimum of four years imprisonment to the maximum of a life sentence.  The offences for which trials were conducted included rape, rape of a child under 16 years, sexual activity with a child family member and carnal knowledge. The total number of cases for each offence is as follows: rape 34; rape of a child under sixteen years 56; sexual activity with a child family member 35 and carnal knowledge, four.
From 2017-2020, the number of survivors in the category of gender, the majority are females amounting to 122 and nine for males. The ages of the victims have ranged from ages one-year-old being the youngest to 77 years old being the oldest. The Sexual Offences Court in Georgetown has seen the bulk of these cases, followed by the Sexual Offences Court in Berbice and then Essequibo.