Privy Council Appeal No. 47 of 2000
Newton Spence Appellant v.
The Queen Respondent
THE COURT OF APPEAL OF ST. VINCENT
AND THE GRENADINES
JUDGMENT OF THE LORDS OF THE JUDICIAL
COMMITTEE OF THE PRIVY COUNCIL,
Delivered the 16th July 2001
Present at the hearing:-
Sir Patrick Russell
Sir Christopher Staughton
Sir Andrew Leggatt
Sir Philip Otton
[Delivered by Sir Patrick Russell]
"A person shall be deemed to have caused the death of another person, although his act is not the immediate or not the sole cause of death, in any of the following cases –
(a) if he inflicts bodily injury on another person in consequence of which that other person undergoes surgical or medical treatment which causes his death. In this case it is immaterial whether the treatment is mistaken if it was employed in good faith with common knowledge and skill, but the person inflicting the injury shall not be deemed to have caused the death if the treatment which was the immediate cause of the death was not employed in good faith or was so employed without common knowledge or skill."
There are other sub-paragraphs of section 168 which have no bearing on the instant case.
Having reviewed the evidence the judge said later:"As I said to you the prosecution must convince you, make you feel sure, that the wound was operating up to the time of death as a substantial cause of such death. No matter that something else, for example medical bad treatment or abnormally bad treatment may be operating. The wound or injury does not have to be the only cause of death."
"Members of the jury, if having considered the evidence you are sure that the wounds in terms of percentage did contribute in terms of 35 to 40 per cent, you may quite properly conclude that was a cause of death. But you must be sure if the wounds were operating up to the time of death as a cause and remain up to the time of such death a substantial cause. It is a matter for you. It remains a matter of fact for you to decide."
"A jury in a criminal trial for a capital offence shall consist of twelve persons to be selected by ballot whose verdict shall be unanimous:
Section 15 provides:Provided that in trials for murder, after two hours of its consideration, a verdict of ten jurors convicting the accused of any offence less than murder of which they are entitled by law to convict him, shall be received as the verdict in the cause."
"If, during the course of any criminal proceeding, one of the jury dies, or becomes incapable of serving, or absents himself, it shall not be necessary to discharge the jury or to add thereto another juror, but the trial shall be proceeded with by the remaining jurors notwithstanding such death, incapacity or absence."
Miss Payne and myself sat before you yesterday afternoon together with counsel for both prosecution and defense, Miss Young and Miss Leigertwood. At that time you were presented with a communication from Miss Payne addressed to you for which a response is awaited.
At the meeting you expressed your concern with the dilemma before you and intimated that your hands were effectively tied by the laws of this state. If these are in fact true statements then we have no choice but to accept them. Please be very certain however that Miss Payne is in no way shape or form responsible for the circumstances brought to your attention and no amount of lawyerly huffing and puffing will properly remedy matters. It seems that as a citizen of this state Miss Payne has no rights whatsoever when it comes down to your lordship weighing these on the one hand against the gross incompetence of the Courts officers on the other hand. For this we will be grateful for a clear and cogent explanation either from you or the Courts Officers if indeed they are capable of providing same.
We are attempting to rearrange our travel plans to precisely one week later and will advise you if we are successful in doing so. We already know that we shall incur the minimum additional cost of some $663.40 United States Dollars ($1791.18 Eastern Caribbean Dollars) as a result of cancellation fees and such like as a direct result of the erroneous, irresponsible and imbecillic behaviour of at least one of the Courts officers. As yet we are uncertain of the additional fax and telephone charges to ground operators, hotels and family to advise them of the new schedule and will be better able to provide material documents in support thereof by early December.
Our question to you is a simple, but compound one - who will you order to pay the above sum and any other relevant additional sums, when, in what currency and to whom?
We respectfully expect a forthright response to both to the original communication and the foregoing today.
John West & Ronelle Payne
cc I. E. Leigertwood (Miss)"
The letter was followed by another letter from Mr. West. It reads:-
I have shown a copy of my letter to you of yesterday's date to a lawyer who has given me advice. In these particular circumstances I write to you to clarify my feelings on the entire affair.
First of all I hope that you will appreciate that this communication is prepared in a reflective conciliatory mood. This I assure you is vastly different from the frustration and anger felt after our meeting on Wednesday that rolled over into Thursday morning. Nothing happened that morning that would change the events of the previous day except of course the spiraling costs of rearranging our vacation. Whilst frustration and anger are powerful emotions by themselves they are further tempered in this case by all that I feel for my fiance Miss Payne. She found herself equally frustrated and pure instinct determined the content of the letter. I hope that you may be able to understand the helplessness we felt at that time.
Without doubt the tenor of the letter was inappropriate, but more importantly perhaps certain words, I now clearly understand, could offend the sensibilities of others. For this in particular I am most apologetic. At no time was any ill intent meant toward any person in particular especially your Lordship.
I hope your Lordship will be able to consider my unreserved apology should either your Lordship or any of the Courts officers have been offended in any way.
cc I.E. Leigertwood (Miss)"
"Where in the course of a trial of any person for an offence on indictment any member of the jury dies or is discharged by the court whether as being through illness incapable of continuing to act or for any other reason, but the number of is members is not reduced below nine, the jury shall nevertheless (subject to subsections (2) and (3) below) be considered as remaining for all the purposes of that trial properly constituted, and the trial shall proceed and a verdict may be given accordingly."
"9.10 a.m. Counsel see judge in chambers
Mr. Cottle draws to Court's attention that juror Esther Horne has informed him that she received telephone call from one purporting to be the brother of the Accused.
The person said 'Esther how you doing.' I said, 'I am fine'. He said 'You know this case is a hard case you'
He said 'you know the Privy Council throw out the case already?
I said 'Mr Daniel, you know I should not be discussing this case with anyone and the person I know the voice of Mr Daniel very well. We work in different branches of the National Bank. I have no doubt in my mind that it was voice of …
Court asks Juror whether she can fairly participate in performance of jury duty.
Juror informs Court that incident took place last Friday 16th October. I was not comfortable since then. I got call at my work place. I reported to foreman the very Friday morning.
Defence counsel asks if they have any reservation about continuing notwithstanding incident.
Counsel for defence says that they had thought (as indeed had the Court) that incident had occurred this morning.
In view of fact that incident was last Friday
Counsel expresses reservation as to the fairness of going on.
Court is of the view that in all the circumstances and in particular the juror's statement as to her willingness to carry on and do her duty.
That the case should proceed.
Whereupon the question as to whether the other jurors may have been told is raised.
Court sends for Juror and juror asked whether she had discussed this with other colleagues. Juror answers 'yes'. She was discussing with them for purpose of determining what should be done.
Court continues in open court."