…as DPP disposes of 195 cases for 2018The need for more judges and expediency in the judicial system was reflected in the recent figures released by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Chambers which saw the overall number of criminal cases in Demerara county being reduced by seven per cent at the October criminal session.During last week, the DPP’s office disclosed that 228 cases were listed for attention in Demerara, but of this number, only 16 matters were disposed of – seven per cent of the overall figure.Justice Sandil Kissoon gave the gaol delivery earlier in December which ended the Demerara October 2018 Criminal Assizes. He, along with Justice Jo Ann Barlow,The Supreme Court of Guyana where Demerara High Court cases are heardand later on, Justice James Bovell-Drakes presided over the last session.A release from the DPP’s chambers revealed that of the 16 cases that were disposed of, three were nolle prosequi by the DPP after the complainants opted against pursing trial. Of the 13 matters that were actually presented at the High Court, six were for sexual offences while seven were murder cases.There were six guilty verdicts by jury, three guilty pleas, two formal verdicts of not guilty, one hung jury and one mistrial. State Counsels Abigail Gibbs, Tiffini Lyken and Seeta Bishundial prosecuted the six sexual offences matters before Justice Barlow – matters ranging from Rape of A Child under 16 years to Sexual Activity with A Child Family Member.“In the three cases for the offence of Rape of A Child under 16 years, one accused was sentenced to life imprisonment after the court found the evidence was overwhelming. Another accused was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment while the one other case ended in a hung jury,” the release highlighted.In two separate matters for the offence of Sexual Activity with A Child Family Member, the accused persons were each found guilty by a majority jury verdicts; one accused was sentenced to life imprisonment while the other was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment. The accused in the one case for the offence of Rape was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment after the jury returned a majority verdict of guilty.Notably, sex crimes dominate the Demerara list of cases and a specialised unit called the Sexual Offences Court has been established to deal with such matters. Thus far, only female Judges have been rotated to hear these cases. They were Justices Simone Morris-Ramlall, Jo-Ann Barlow and Priya Sewnarine-Beharry.Next Tuesday, a new criminal session will open in Demerara. Some of the older matters have reappeared in the system owing to retrials ordered by the Appeal Court of Guyana. That Court reduced 17 sentences in 2018 and ordered seven fresh trials.There are 260 cases listed to be heard during the January session which will see Justices Navindra Singh, Bovell-Drakes, and Barlow presiding.During 2018, there was a total of 195 cases disposed of and 129 of these cases received attention in the court. Notably, 66 matters were nolle prosequi by the DPP. Of these 129 cases, 90 were presented from the Demerara Assizes, 27 from the Berbice Assizes and 12 from the Essequibo Assizes.There were 54 cases for murder, 15 cases for the offence of rape, 15 cases for Sexual Activity with A Child Family Member, 13 for Attempt to Commit Murder, 23 cases of Rape of A Child under 16 years, 5 for the offence of Manslaughter and one case each for the offences of Carnal Knowledge of A Girl under 15 years, Causing Death by Dangerous Driving and Wounding with Intent.In February 2018, acting Chief Justice Roxane George, SC, had revealed that some 5000 cases were listed before the courts, but this estimated number included “old rules” cases, divorce proceedings, civil cases, and full court matters.