Rowan Pennington-Benton Instructed by Charles Russell Speechlys LLP (London) for the Respondent.
The appellant, Mr Roger Watson, appeals against his sentence of 50 years’ imprisonment imposed on 25 June 2009 by the Court of Appeal of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas in respect of an offence of manslaughter.
The trial of the appellant took place before Allen SJ and a jury in the Supreme Court, Nassau, The Bahamas between 13 and 26 September 2006. He was charged with a single count of murder contrary to section 291 of the Penal Code (Ch84), and he pleaded not guilty.
The prosecution case at trial was that on 15 January 2003 at around 8:00pm the appellant used a rifle to shoot a series of bullets into the house of a Mr Pinder, a wooden structure where Mr Pinder and another man, Mr Munroe, often stayed. The shooting left ten bullet holes in the front partition wall. One of the bullets struck and killed Eddison Curtis-Johnson, Mr Pinder’s 12-year-old stepson, who was sitting in the living room at the time.
The case against the appellant was largely based on recognition. Three other witnesses described seeing the shootings. One of these witnesses also gave evidence that he had witnessed an altercation between the appellant and Mr Munroe on the day of the shooting.
The prosecution alleged that the appellant harboured “feelings of enmity” towards Mr Munroe and intended to kill him. There was no evidence that lights were on in the house, with the exception of an outside light, and there was no other evidence that indicated that it was observable from the outside of the property that someone was at home.
The appellant advanced at trial a defence of alibi. He gave evidence that at the time in question he was by a bar with friends and a girlfriend. The bar manager gave evidence that he had seen the appellant outside the bar in question but could not recall the exact time, only that he thought that it was “sun-setting time.”
As to the alleged motive for the shooting, the appellant accepted that there had been two previous altercations between him and Mr Munroe involving things being thrown at the appellant’s car. He denied, however, that there had been any sort of confrontation between him and Mr Munroe on the day of the shooting and he denied feeling angry towards him.
On 26 September 2006, the appellant was convicted of murder by a unanimous verdict.
As a result of delay in obtaining a psychiatric report, it was not until 20 September 2007 that the appellant was sentenced. The court heard evidence from a psychiatrist and the appellant’s mother, and it heard oral submissions from counsel. The trial judge sentenced the appellant to death pursuant to section 2 of the Capital Punishment Procedure Act (Ch94).