Judgement handed down in Privy Council hearing regarding the death sentence for "intellectually disabled" defendants

The Privy Council today handed down judgement in the two cases of Hernandez and of Pitman v State of Trinidad and Tobago which were heard together.

The appeals against conviction were unsuccessful and the Board commented that as the Court of Appeal had substituted the originally imposed death sentences with sentences of life imprisonment it would take no action as to sentence.

QEB Hollis Whiteman member Katherine Buckle, who was part of the appellants’ legal team, commented:

“The Board’s acceptance that the execution of a person with severe mental disability is unconstitutional is to be welcomed. It does, however, make uncertain the position for offenders like Pitman and Hernandez, who have either not met or not raised the defence of diminished responsibility. In Trinidad and Tobago, mental disability is often not discovered until the appeal stage, if at all. Without the legal power to challenge their sentences, prisoners are wholly reliant on the President exercising his discretionary power to prevent their execution. Consequently, they could remain on death row for a significant time.”

The full judgements and summaries can be found at:

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