Justice Albert Redhead
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Grenadian-born retired Judge, Albert Redhead, who has been a resident Judge in the BVI for just over a year, said he hopes that he has been able to make a difference in the judicial arm of the Territory.
Justice Redhead spoke yesterday, July 24 in front a packed courtroom during the closing of the May criminal assizes.
"I am happy to have served your country and I hope I have made a difference. Goodbye," the Judge stated.
The Judge noted that the appreciation of the BVI people to him for the work he has done while serving in the BVI was brought to his attention.
"I do not read your blogs, but sometimes it is brought to my attention. I read recently that there is an outpouring of support for me in the BVI. I am humbled by those expressions...I wonder if those expressions are not as a result because you think I am harsh..." Those comments were met with loud applause and responses of "yes".
Justice Redhead said sentencing is the most difficult job for any Judge since that person must take many factors into consideration when sentencing. He said at the same time, a Judge must ensure that when someone who has committed a crime goes before him/her, they send a strong message, "not to try it again".
"...It is to send a message that you cannot commit a criminal act and get away with it lightly...One has to be careful."
He said they must not allow it to be that when criminals are caught, they are allowed to get away with it.
The Judge also expressed satisfaction over the improvement of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) office under its new leadership, Mr. Wayne Rajbansie.
He also thanked the court staff, driver and prison officers.
Members of the bar showered Justice Redhead with words of encouragement, including Principal Crown Counsel Tiffany Scatliffe and Senior Crown Counsel Valston Graham.
Graham said he would not term the Judge's sentences as harsh, but appropriate based on the cases.
"...I prefer to remember you for the efficient management you brought to the court," Graham stated.
Article Published June 26, 2013 - Justice Albert Redhead Leaves In Coming Weeks
Known to deliver stiff sentences and harsh words to those found guilty in his court, Acting Resident Judge, Justice Albert Redhead is expected to leave the Territory after serving for just over a year.
BVI Platinum News has confirmed that this is the last criminal assizes that Justice Redhead will be presiding over and he will leave following the closing of the assizes which ends late next month.
During his time in the BVI, Justice Redhead's name became a household one and through many forums, he has been commended for his heavy sentencing against those found guilty of crimes.
BVI Platinum News understands that a female Judge from within the Caribbean will be replacing Justice Redhead.
Justice Redhead is the first to hand down a life imprisonment sentence without eligibility for parole since the Parole Act came into force in 2009. In March of this year, Justice Redhead sentenced Yan Edwards and Allen Baptiste to life in prison without possibility of parole for the murder of Keri 'Hank' Harrigan.
Murder carries an automatic life imprisonment sentence; however, with the 2009 Parole Act, a High Court Judge now has the choice to state at what time the convicted person can be eligible to go before the Parole Board after serving a certain amount of years.
Some of his rigid sentences included that of Sherwin Fahie who as in July last year sentenced to 25 years in prison for wounding Kelbert George in front of his apartment on Virgin Gorda in 2010; Jason Stevens and Leonard Sprauve, 15 years each for their involvement in the January 21, 2011 MoneyGram armed robbery; Royden Sebastian, 20 years for his involvement in the 2010 armed robbery at FirstBank; and Courtney Meade and Ramon George, 20 years for their role in the daring early morning break-in at the Road Town Police Station.
However, some of his sentences have already been appealed and in one case the Court of Appeal reduced the sentence. Meade and George´s sentences where reduced from 20 to 15 years.
Justice Redhead also heard the Habeas Corpus for the five men wanted by the United States in relation to an alleged 13 year drug ring. On September 17, 2012 Justice Redhead ruled against extraditing the men.
He had ruled that former Senior Magistrate Valerie Stephens' ruling in March, 2012 that the men be extradited was null and void, false and that the BVI is the appropriate forum for the men to be tried.
"I must confess that it is not with any pleasure or gratitude that I have arrived at these conclusions, but that is the law as I see it" the Judge stated in his September 2012 ruling.
However, the US government has since filed a new extradition request and the Governor issued another Order to Proceed, allowing the Senior Magistrate to conduct a new extradition hearing to determine whether the men should be sent to the United States to face charges.
This process has since been challenged by the men as they seek to have a Judicial Review to block the second hearing. The men are Delville Hodge known as 'Bob Hodge'; Customs Officer Roberto Harrigan known as 'Tico'; Chad Skelton; Carlston Beazer; and Juan Valdez.
Following guilty verdicts, Justice Redhead is known for comments given to those in the dock such as, "you had callous disregard for life"; "you had no regard for authority"; "it is my duty to send a message"; "you are yet to show any remorse"; "leave little girls alone".
This week the Judge told Alcedo `Cedo´ Tyson who was found guilty of killing his ex girlfriend, "you are an evil man." Tyson will be sentenced on July 12 by Justice Redhead.
Criticisms of Judicial System
Justice Redhead has also been frank about his criticisms of certain aspects of the judicial system in the Territory.
Justice Albert Redhead
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
After serving on his first assizes in July of last year, Justice Redhead in open court cited a number of shortcomings by the Police, Prison and more so, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Office.
He said most of the Crown Counsel lacked experience and they should not be thrown out in the deep. He also stated that he was very disappointed in the lack of ambiance in disposal of cases in the assizes.
Justice Redhead spoke about other issues including the slow pace in which indictments were being filed and noted that he is aware that a matter is never before a court unless or until an indictment is filed.
The Judge also held the view that case management has no place in criminal trials. He stated that the BVI is the only jurisdiction in the OECS jurisdiction that has such a system for criminal matters.