Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. In an order delivered today, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ordered that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) of Belize be allowed to ask the Court of Appeal to consider the setting aside of the verdict delivered by the Trial Judge in the case of Calaney Flowers v The Queen.
Ms Flowers was charged and tried for the offences of murder and attempted murder. The trial was held without a jury pursuant to section 65 A of the Indictable Procedure Act. On March 24th, 2017, the Trial Judge delivered a verdict of not guilty on both counts and Ms Flowers was acquitted. The DPP applied for leave to the Court of Appeal against the Trial Judge’s verdict of acquittal, pursuant to section 65 C(3) of the Indictable Procedure Act; on November 12th, 2019, the Court of Appeal dismissed the application, stating it had no jurisdiction. The DPP sought special leave to appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal and on February 14th, 2020 the CCJ granted the DPP special leave to appeal.
This appeal raised the sole issue of statutory interpretation and the correlation between two pieces of legislation: section 49 of the Court of Appeal Act and section 65 of the Indictable Procedure Act. The Respondent argued that the right of appeal granted to the Prosecution under section 65C (3) was restricted by section 49(1)(a) of the Court of Appeal Act. The Appellant’s argument was that the combined effect of section 65C (1) and 65C (3) clearly granted the Prosecution’s right of appeal from a verdict of acquittal from a trial by judge alone and was not intended to limit this right to an acquittal at the close of the Prosecution’s case.
The appeal was heard on June 16th, 2020. The CCJ made an order allowing the appeal and setting aside the decision of the Court of Appeal with reasons to follow. The effect of this order is that the DPP is now empowered to ask the Court of Appeal to consider whether or not the verdict of the Trial Judge should be set aside.