UKPC 38
Privy Council Appeal No 0002 of 2012
Taitt (Appellant) v The State (Respondent)
From the Court of Appeal of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago
JUDGMENT DELIVERED BY
8 November 2012
Heard on 15 October 2012
James Guthrie QC
(Instructed by Simons Muirhead & Burton)
(Instructed by Charles Russell LLP)
(1) that the trial judge ought to have given a modified good character direction;
(2) that the trial judge failed to give an appropriate warning in respect of Sheneka McCarthy's evidence;
(3) that the trial judge failed to deal fairly with the key aspects of the defence case;
(4) that the appellant's conviction ought not to be upheld in view of the successful appeal of his co-accused;
(5) that the appellant was likely to have been unfit to plead or stand trial; and
(6) that the imposition of the death sentence on a mentally impaired defendant is cruel and unusual punishment contrary to section 5(2)(b) of the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago.
"(1) The standard and most reliable test of general ability (WAIS) suggests that Mr Taitt falls within the least able 1% of the population. This represents a very significant handicap. Any person with this sort of IQ would need very careful help to understand legal issues in a trial. A person with this sort of ability would have a basic capacity to understand right from wrong, especially if they had a stable and law-abiding up-bringing. However, in terms of presenting his best defence and understanding complex points of proof or evidence or law, Mr Taitt has serious handicaps.
(6) I would say, in principle, that any person with Mr Taitt's IQ would have difficulty in following the proceedings of a court of law. My questioning of Mr Taitt about his legal proceedings suggested that the concerns in principle are evidenced by this limited ability, in fact, to explain details about his case.
(9) … I have serious doubts as to whether Mr Taitt would have understood the legal process up to this point sufficiently well to have offered a reasonably competent defence. I saw nothing to suggest that he is fully aware of the issues facing him in any future stages of the legal process."
"His clinical presentation was in keeping with Mr Norman's objective findings: he appears of borderline low intellectual capacity.
Generally, a defendant with this level of impairment is likely to struggle to participate fully in a criminal trial if attention is not paid to their difficulties; for example, such a defendant is likely to find it difficult to follow complex evidence, attend to evidence over a long period of time and give instructions to their legal representatives in response to evidence without the evidence being explained in detail to them and care being taken to ensure that they fully appreciate the possible consequences of the evidence. I am not clear that such an approach was taken with Mr Taitt at the time of his trial; as such, he is likely to have struggled to participate adequately in his trial for the murder of Mr McCarthy.
His difficulties are likely to have increased, if, as his account suggests, he was suffering from symptoms of mild clinical depression at the time of the trial. He is likely to have been less able to concentrate on the evidence given than would otherwise have been the case because of symptoms of depression."
"He was able to give me full instructions and when examined on these instructions he seemed to be very consistent with those instructions. He seemed to me to be a bit 'hyper' however, he appeared to be normal and during the trial at the High Court as well as the Preliminary Enquiry at the Magistrates' Court Marlon was able to participate fully and pay particular attention to all that went on."
Ground 5: fitness to stand trial
Ground 6: constitutionality of the death sentence