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Saturday 21 July 2018
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Privy Council upholds murder conviction

THREE Privy Council judges, in a majority decision, have dismissed the appeal of a convicted killer who claimed to be mentally ill.

Jay Chandler’s case received international attention as he sought to have his 2011 conviction for killing another inmate in 2004 overturned.

He was convicted after two trials for using a home-made knife to stab Kern Phillip during a quarrel at the Remand Yard prison in Arouca. Chandler was seen chasing Phillip across the compound. Phillip died from his wounds in the prison’s infirmary.

A post-mortem examination showed Phillip’s heart had been punctured.

Chandler denied having the weapon or attacking Phillip.

His lawyers presented to five UK-based judges a report from a forensic psychologist who diagnosed him as suffering from episodes of psychosis. Chandler sought to have the new medical evidence admitted so that the case could be sent back to the local appellate court in support of a defence of diminished responsibility.

The appeal was heard by Lords Kerr, Sumption, Reed, Carnwath and Lloyd-Jones.

In their majority ruling, Lords Carnwath, Sumption and Reed admitted the case was “troubling,” but said there was no evidence that the failure to advance a case of diminished responsibility at the trial was anything other than deliberate.

The three did not allow the report from Prof Eastman, who had diagnosed Chandler as having psychotic episodes. In their majority ruling, the judges said there was no reason to doubt Chandler’s understanding of the issues at his trial nor his competence to instruct his lawyer.

They pointed out that although Eastman’s evidence said it was “more likely than not” that Chandler was in a psychotic state at the time of the offence, evidence to suggest this was not adduced at trial. They said at neither trial did he link the killing to the “voices” he said he had heard since his teens.

In their dissenting judgement, Lords Kerr and Lloyd-Jones said they would have allowed the appeal and remitted the case for trial on the issue of whether, at the time of the killing, Chandler was suffering from an abnormality of the mind which substantially impaired his mental responsibility

Chandler escaped the hangman’s noose because of the 1993 ruling in the case of Pratt and Morgan, which imposed a five-year limit from the time of sentencing for carrying out the death penalty.

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