The retrial of Devon Anglin for the alleged murder of 4-year-old Jeremiah Barnes has been adjourned until May 2016, after it was set for July this year.
Jeremiah was shot in the head while in the back seat of a vehicle at Hell Service Station in West Bay in February 2010. His parents were in the front seats, and the Crown suggested during the first trial that Jeremiah’s father was the gunman’s intended target.
Anglin elected to be tried by judge alone, and after trial in August 2011, Justice Howard Cooke found him not guilty. The Crown appealed and in November 2014 the Court of Appeal set the acquittal aside, citing an error in law by the judge. The court ordered a retrial and counsel involved subsequently agreed on three weeks in July 2015.
On Wednesday, attorney Fiona Robertson told Justice Charles Quin that Anglin’s counsel of choice, John Ryder QC, was not available until May 2016 because of professional commitments. She explained that Anglin had built a good relationship with Mr. Ryder, who had defended him in the trial and then in the appeal.
She submitted that in such an important matter, there should be continuity of counsel, pointing out that the Crown would have continuity because the prosecutor, Andrew Radcliffe QC, would be doing the retrial.
Ms. Robertson cited difficulties that would arise in having to instruct a new lead defense counsel, especially because Anglin’s junior counsel in the trial was Lucy Organ, who is no longer in Cayman. She noted that Chief Justice Anthony Smellie granted legal aid for Ms. Organ to return for the retrial; that showed how important continuity of counsel is, she asserted.
Crown Counsel Alexander Upton opposed the application for adjournment. He said Jeremiah’s mother and father need closure, “as does the general public.” He asked what would happen if another problem arose with Mr. Ryder’s schedule.
Ms. Robertson assured the court that the time would be blocked out in Mr. Ryder’s diary. Justice Quin said this was not an easy decision to make. He accepted that any delays were not caused by the defendant himself. The judge pointed out that the Court of Appeal had not reached any conclusions as to Anglin’s guilt or innocence, only that Mr. Cooke had erred on a point of law.
He said the court’s over-riding duty is to ensure that the defendant receives a fair trial. Under Cayman’s new Bill of Rights, a defendant is entitled to legal assistance of his choosing. It was regrettable that Mr. Ryder was not available until 2016, Justice Quin commented. He asked, if circumstances changed, that counsel use their best endeavors to bring the matter forward. He said he was doing a balancing exercise and the balance dipped in favor of the defendant, so he granted the adjournment.
The matter will be mentioned again on April 17 so that Anglin can advise the court as to whether he chooses trial by jury or by judge alone.
Anglin is serving a sentence of life imprisonment for the September 2009 murder of Carlo Webster at the Next Level Night Club. The Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal of that conviction.