Mentally-ill man appeals drug charge sentence
• to know fate next month
Kaieteur News
December 20, 2006

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The Full Court of the Supreme Court of Judicature is hearing an appeal from diagnosed schizophrenic Fidel Ida Liverpool , whose lawyers are asking that his conviction and sentence be overturned.

Liverpool, a British citizen, was convicted for having cocaine in his possession at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport in 2004.

He is seeking to quash Magistrate Bertlyn Reynolds's decision to give him a custodial sentence on the grounds that she did not consider the medical evidence at the trial.

The Full Court , constituted by Judges Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Jainarayan Singh, is expected to deliver the ruling very early in the new year.

The Judges indicated to Liverpool 's lawyers, Bernard De Santos, S.C., and attorney-at-law Leslie Sobers, that the matter will be expedited.

The lawyers claimed that Liverpool was a patient at a city hospital at the time of his conviction.

The evidence at the trial revealed that Liverpool was an outbound passenger travelling to England , on September 11, 2004, when officials from the Customs Anti Narcotics Unit (CANU) examined Liverpool 's suitcase and found a quantity of cocaine in the lining.

“It is understood that the appellant had explained that he had no knowledge of how the drug got into the suitcase. He was diagnosed to be psychotic, and explained that he was sick at the time, and had asked someone for help in catching a taxi,” the man's lawyers contended.

De Santos told the Court that, at the trial, a recognised expert psychiatrist, Dr Bhiro Harry, had testified that Liverpool was a paranoid schizophrenic.

However, State Counsel Nyasha Williams said that Dr Harry had opined that at the time of the alleged offence, Liverpool was in control of his mental faculties.

Williams stated that she saw no reason why the Magistrate's order should be altered.

• Liverpool 's lawyers submitted legal authorities and referred to aspects of the evidence which supported the contention that the appellant should not have been convicted.