Appeal against life sentence for rape adjourned

The appeal of rapist Jeffrey Barnes against a sentence of life imprisonment has been adjourned. 

Defense attorney Nicholas Dixey was to have argued that the life sentence was unconstitutional. Justice Charles Quin imposed the sentence in September 2013 after Barnes’s third conviction for rape. 

Last week, Mr. Dixey appeared before the Court of Appeal, where Justice Sir Alan Moses noted that “the new regime” was being put in place, so there was no point to the appeal. 

The regime of which he spoke is the Conditional Release Law, scheduled to come into effect in February. It provides that all prisoners serving what used to be whole life terms must have a specified term of imprisonment. 

In order to put the provisions of the law into full effect, a nine-person Conditional Release Board has to be appointed and, earlier this month, Governor Helen Kilpatrick made a preliminary announcement about the appointments. 

Mr. Dixey pointed out that no commencement order has yet been made for the law to come into effect. 

The judges agreed that if no order were made, he could apply to have the appeal re-listed. 

The attorney submitted there was still the ground of appeal that the sentence was manifestly excessive. Barnes served a 10-year sentence imposed in 2001 and is currently serving a 15-year sentence imposed in 2013. 

The court agreed that Mr. Dixey had made a sensible argument and said the appeal should not be taken out of the list; instead, it was adjourned until April.