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As the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) launched its sentencing guidelines for judges and magistrates within the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Her Ladyship the Hon. Dame Janice Pereira, Chief Justice of the ECSC announced that the public should not expect that all sentences will be the same.
The guidelines were created by the Sentencing Advisory Committee (SAC), that was made up of Chief Justice Pereira as the President and jointly chaired by Her Ladyship Madam Justice Gertel Thom, Justice of Appeal, and His Lordship Mr. Justice Iain Morley, High Court Judge.
During the launch on September 17, it was noted that the SAC worked for two years in order to create the guidelines for five offences. These offences include drug offences, two offences of deception and two sexual offences.
In her feature address which was simulcasted to the courts of the OECS, Justice Pereira stressed that all cases are not the same, so the sentencing cannot be one size fits all. The Chief Justice said that guidelines are meant to advise.
“It is to inform uniformity, consistency of approach. Why can it not be uniformity in sentences--there is no one case that is exactly the same. That’s the simple reason,” Justice Pereira explained.
“I want to make clear that the guidelines are not intended and do not replace the exercise of a sentencing officer’s discretion. Rather, what is required and what is expected is that sentences will follow the guidelines published for an offence, unless to do so would not be in the interest of justice,” the Chief Justice added.
In his remarks, co-chair of the SAC, Justice Morley mentioned that more guidelines will be launched in the new year.
“There is further work to do. The sentencing guidelines will be under constant review and adaptation, and for Easter we hope to have added up to 10 further sentencing guidelines on murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, grievous bodily harm with and without intent, actual bodily harm, burglary, fraud, corruption, incest and indecent assault and serious indecency,” he said.
The five guidelines are expected to take effect from October 1.