Almost 7 years after being convicted of a crime he did not commit, Donley Saunders finally walked out of court a free man on Monday, completely vindicated of all charges against him.
Back in April 2012, after a month-long trial, a jury convicted Saunders of fraudulent conversion in a split verdict. The entire trial was riddled with flaws and was considered by legal analysts at the time to be a severe miscarriage of justice.
Although Saunders had a completely clean record at the time, he was still given the baffling sentence of 7 years with hard labour (the maximum sentence) by then Resident Judge Errol Thomas.
His lawyer, Terence Byron, immediately filed an appeal to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal against the flawed conviction and sentence. And in an unprecedented move for this jurisdiction, Lawyer Byron applied for Donley Saunders to be released on bail pending the hearing of his appeal. The application for bail was heard after Saunders had served 2 years and 7 months of his sentence, during which his health unfortunately suffered due to deplorable prison conditions.
On Monday of this week, Dr Henry Browne QC and Mr Terence Byron CMG represented Donley Saunders before the Court of Appeal panel, presided over by Chief Justice Dame Janice Pereira, and ably satisfied the panel that the conviction against Saunders was improper and should not stand.
After listening to just the first of their twelve powerful pleaded grounds of appeal, the Court decided that they had heard more than enough to determine that the conviction must be quashed immediately. The Director of Public Prosecutions, despite fierce attempts to fight the appeal, eventually had to concede that the conviction was indeed unsafe.
After a horrible and trying ordeal of more than 7 years, the wrongful conviction was quashed and Donley’s innocence was finally upheld.
Justice at last was served as Saunders walked out of court with his head held high and his clean record completely restored.
Donley Saunders is the holder of an Associate’s Degree in Marketing and has had an outstanding career as a business and administrative executive. He served as Director of Housing at the International University of Nursing and of the International University of the Health Sciences School of Medicine. Since 2014, he serves in a senior role at C&C Trading Ltd.