Following damning revelations that the Foreman of the jury for the Lusignan massacre trial was once the client of Attorney – at – Law Nigel Hughes, a tribunal will now have to review the ‘not guilty’ verdict.
This is according to Legal Affairs Minister and Attorney General (AG), Anil Nandlall, who told iNews during a telephone interview that the trial Judge, Justice Navindra Singh on his own volition is prohibited from interfering with the verdict already given.
Mr. Hughes represented one of the murder accused during the trial. According to the AG, the appellate tribunal has the power to determine whether “these peculiar circumstances amounted to a miscarriage of justice. In my view, it is a striking coincidence that neither lawyer nor client remembered each other.”
iNews understands that the foreman, Vernon Griffith was represented by two Attorneys from the Hughes, Fields & Stoby law firm, one was a female and the other was Hughes in December 2002, in a matter which engaged the attention of the Court for some six years.
The AG explained to this news site that one of the grounds which the appeal is based on is that the entire trial was infected with “defence counsel/lawyer/client relationship with the foreman of the jury.”
According to Nandlall, this relationship was confirmed by the Foreman himself, along with the State records, which confirmed that Mr. Hughes had appeared for the Foreman in a matter before Chief Justice, Ian Chang.
In addition to this, the registrar of the Chief Justice and a policeman attached to the court of the Chief Justice have both confirmed the identity of the Foreman of the jury as the person represented by Mr. Hughes, the AG explained.
“These are serious legal principles which have been violated and I suspected that as a result of the high profile nature of this matter, the Judge out of an abundance of caution embarked upon an inquiry when the jurors were empanelled and each of them were questioned about their association if any, in respect of any of the persons involved, including the deceased and their relatives and specially whether they had any association with any of the lawyers, including Mr. Hughes.”
Meanwhile, the juror has since been banned from conducting jury duty by the trial Judge. iNews understands that Justice Singh told the man that what he did was “highly improper.”
Griffith was then informed on Tuesday by the Judge that he is banned from jury-duty for life.
When the jury panel was being selected for the Lusignan Massacre trial, Mr. Hughes had requested a mini-trial to be held so that each of the intended jurors was questioned about their knowledge and position on the massacre before they were finally selected for the panel.
On August 2 after retiring sometime around 11:30h, the panel took some seven hours before finally returning around 18:30h, finding both accused not guilty of 11 counts of murder and not guilty also of the lesser count of manslaughter.
The first accused, Mark Royden Williams called “Smallie”, was further remanded to prison due to other pending court matters, while James Anthony Hyles called “Sally”, who was represented by Mr. Hughes, was granted $1.1 million bail.