A Supreme Court judge yesterday dismissed a constitutional challenge to a life sentence imposed 22 years ago “as an abuse of process of the court”.
Barry Parcoi, one of the inmates who staged a deadly prison break in 2006, alleged through his lawyer, Sonia Timothy, that the life sentence imposed in 1994 for a first conviction of rape was unlawful.
This is the second time that Parcoi has challenged his life sentence in the Supreme Court. A habeas corpus application was dismissed in 2012.
Timothy argued that Parcoi should have been sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment, which was the mandatory minimum sentence for the offense at the time.
She noted that the Court of Appeal followed this provision in the case of child rapist Andrew Bridgewater.
In his ruling, Acting Justice Gregory Hilton said, “It is clear that the conviction and sentence of applicant occurring in 1995, and being affirmed in 1995 by the Court of Appeal, occurred prior to the abolition of the Mandatory Minimum Sentences Act 2000, which in this court’s view was relevant in the court’s interpretation of Section 10 (1) of the Sexual Offenses and Domestic Violence Act of 1991 in the Bridgewater case.
“It is also clear that the Court of Appeal, in dismissing the applicant’s appeal against conviction and affirming the life sentence in 1995, was of the view that the life sentence was lawful.
“There is, therefore, a concurrent decision of the Court of Appeal extant which is not consistent with the decision in the Bridgewater case.
“It is this court’s view that for the applicant to now again challenge in this court the life sentence on the grounds of constitutional infringement would effectively amount to an appeal to the Supreme Court of a decision by the Court of Appeal and is an abuse of the process of the court.”
Hilton said that Parcoi, to his detriment, had failed to challenge the Court of Appeal’s decision to the Privy Council.
Parcoi and Corey Hepburn, who is on bail, are still awaiting trial for the murder of Corporal Dion Bowles, who was killed during the 2006 escape.
Anishka Hanchell appeared for the Crown.