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Oct 18, 2018

Bennett’s Legal Team Explains CCJ Decision

Bennett’s legal representative, Audrey Matura, explained the arduous process of seeking and securing his release.  The life sentence was initially appealed at the Court of Appeal where it was dismissed.  As a final attempt, Matura applied for leave for the matter to be heard before the C.C.J.


Audrey Matura, Attorney for Japhet Bennett

Audrey Matura

“After the Court of Appeal turned down our appeal, we applied by special leave for permission to appeal.  It’s not automatic.  So earlier this year, we had arguments presented to the court and Mr. Anthony Sylvester did that for me because I was out of the country, in which we were giving them the grounds why they should give us leave.  After there is the leave then we would have had the full argument, but to our surprise, what they did is that they treated the leave hearing as the full hearing because we made substantial submissions in writing.  It wasn’t only what was said orally and both sides did.  So when were contacted day before yesterday to say that the decision would have been yesterday, we had expected only a decision on whether leave was granted or not.  But to our surprise, it was a full decision as to what the court had determined in this matter. We appealed the conviction and we said, well if you don’t agree that the conviction should be quashed then we are appealing the sentence which was a life sentence against Japhet Bennett who was convicted when he was a minor and we were arguing that a minor should never be given a life sentence.  It should be given a definite period and rehabilitated. During the time we were waiting for this appeal to be heard, there were changes in the legislation as to how minors would be sentenced, which sort of aligned with our argument.  So we weren’t sure what the court was going to do, but what the court did, based on the decision we got, they went ahead and did not pay attention to any of the other grounds that we submitted and they only looked at one ground and that ground had to do with the conviction.  Was it a safe conviction based on one thing.  It was only one evidence submitted by the Crown and that was the statement of a witness who said that after the fact he arrived at the scene and at a distance of about forty feet he saw a person he said was Japhet Bennett over the body of Mr. Ellis and that the person had a gun.”

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