Knowles v Knowles (Antigua and Barbuda)

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
JudgeLord Carswell
Judgment Date09 May 2008
Neutral Citation[2008] UKPC 32
CourtPrivy Council
Docket NumberAppeals No 39, 25 and 55 of 2006
Date09 May 2008
Arnold Huggins
Leslie Huggins
and
Junior Phillip
Appellant
and
The State
Respondent

[2008] UKPC 32

Present at the hearing:-

Lord Hoffmann

Lord Rodger of Earlsferry

Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe

Lord Carswell

Lord Mance

Appeals No 39, 25 and 55 of 2006

Privy Council

[Delivered by Lord Carswell]

1

The three appellants, Arnold Huggins, Leslie Huggins and Junior Phillip, were on 8 May 2003 convicted after a trial before Soo Hon J and a jury in the High Court at the Port of Spain Assizes of the murder on 20 February 1996 of Clint Huggins. They were each sentenced to death. Their appeals against conviction were dismissed by the Court of Appeal (Hamel-Smith, Warner and Weekes JJA) in a judgment dated 21 April 2005. The Privy Council granted the appellants leave to appeal as poor persons against conviction and sentence.

2

The grounds on which leave to appeal was granted and which were argued on behalf of the appellants before the Board were as follows:

  • (a) The tone and content of the closing speech of prosecuting counsel were such as to render the trial unfair - this ground was common to all three appellants.

  • (b) New material showed the evidence of Ackbar Khan, the justice of the peace who gave evidence relating to the taking of the confession statements made by Arnold Huggins and Junior Phillip, to be unreliable. This ground directly concerned those appellants, but it was also argued on behalf of Leslie Huggins, who did not make a statement of admission, that this defect was capable of affecting his case.

  • (c) On the grounds accepted by the Board in Matthew v The State [2005] 1 AC 433, it would be wrong to carry out the death sentence on the appellants.

3

The murder victim Clint Huggins was at the time of his death in protective custody, as he was to be one of the main witnesses in a case in which Dole Chadee, Joey Ramiah and others were charged with murder. Arnold and Leslie Huggins were cousins of Clint Huggins and Junior Phillip was a neighbour and close friend of Leslie Huggins. On Sunday 18 February 1996 Clint Huggins decided to leave protective custody and visit his family at Leslie Huggins' home in order to take part in the carnival celebrations, which took place that week.

4

The prosecution case was that Leslie Huggins visited Joey Ramiah (a relation by marriage) in prison, where he was awaiting trial, and Ramiah offered him $3 million to kill Clint Huggins. The three appellants entered into a joint enterprise to carry out the murder. Clint Huggins arrived at Leslie's house early on 18 February, spent the day with him and stayed in his house overnight. The following day Swarsatee Maharaj, known as "Satee", who lived with Leslie Huggins, overheard a conversation between Leslie and his uncle Simon Ragunanan, in which Leslie asked Simon "How we going to do this?", to which Simon replied "We'll go to Matura for Arnold, he has a gun."

5

A group consisting of Leslie, Junior, Satee, Clint and Simon spent the evening of Monday 19 February in Sangre Grande at the carnival celebrations. About 11 pm Leslie told Satee that Arnold was going to shoot Clint in the crowd, but shortly afterwards she heard Junior say that it could not be done that night because of the number of people about. Clint was seen with Leslie and Junior on separate occasions that evening by PC Thompson and Inspector Lloyd. Haile Selassie Amoroso was with them that night when Clint was lying on the bonnet of a car, apparently intoxicated, and Leslie said "This is the right time to take him out". Nothing happened, however, and the group returned to Leslie's house.

6

Early in the morning of Shrove Tuesday 20 February the group, consisting of Arnold, Leslie, Junior, Clint, Satee and Simon left for Port of Spain to celebrate J'Ouvert. They travelled in two cars, a Laurel and a Lancer, which were registered in Leslie's name but had been paid for by Satee. The cars stopped on the Uriah Butler Highway. According to Satee's account Arnold shot Clint twice with a long gun, then Leslie drove the Laurel at him and knocked him on to a chain link fence. Leslie produced a knife and stabbed Clint several times, then Junior hit him on the head with a piece of wood. The Laurel car was set on fire with Clint's body inside and the group made off in the Lancer. At the Valencia Bridge Leslie Huggins threw away the knife and the keys to the Laurel car. Along the Valencia Stretch Leslie and Junior threw their jerseys and sneakers out of the window. They returned to Leslie's home and cleaned up. Leslie told Junior, Satee and Simon that if questioned about Clint's death they should say that he had borrowed the Laurel to go to buy cigarettes and had never returned.

7

About 10 am on 20 February Leslie, Junior and Satee met Vishwanath Jawahir, known as "Sharkey". Leslie told him that they had burnt the Laurel for insurance and asked him to go to the scene to see if it had burnt out completely. Sharkey did so, but as there were police officers present he did not go too close. He reported to Leslie, who paid him $100. Later that evening Leslie told Satee that he would collect the reward from his uncle Joey and bury it at the back of the house.

8

The police discovered the burnt car and Clint's body and set up an investigation. A post mortem examination revealed that he had died from shock and haemorrhage from multiple stab wounds, other penetrating wounds and extensive burns. Shotgun pellets were removed from the body.

9

On that day Leslie, Junior and Satee were questioned by the police. All made statements giving an account in line with the prepared story and the police took no further action at the time. There was no evidence of any further development in connection with the murder until on 3 November 1999 Junior Phillip contacted the police and asked to speak to them. There was a conflict of evidence about his purpose in doing so. Sergeant Moses testified that Phillip did so because he wanted to be a State witness about the murder, whereas Phillip's version was that he only wished to give the police some information in his possession and that the suggestion of his becoming a State witness came from them. The prosecution case was that on 4 November Phillip made an oral confession of involvement in Clint Huggins' murder, although Phillip in his evidence denied making this statement. He then made a written statement on 6 November, in which he gave a detailed account of the murder. He made an admission of taking part himself in the assault on the victim by striking him three times on the head with the butt of the gun with which he had been shot. The admissibility of this statement was challenged and a voir dire was held, following which the judge admitted both statements in evidence.

10

On 8 November 1999 Phillip went with police officers to the Valencia Bridge and there pointed out the place at which he said Arnold Huggins had thrown the knife and gun used for killing Clint Huggins. He then took them to the Valencia Stretch, where he said that Leslie "and them" threw a pair of pants and sneakers from the car. Both places were searched, but nothing material was found.

11

On 11 November 1999 Satee, who by this time was living with Junior Phillip, was arrested. She made a statement implicating the appellants in the murder. She made further statements on 2 December 1999 and 27 September 2000. On the latter date she was granted immunity from prosecution. She gave evidence at the trial in accordance with her statements, though much play was made of inconsistencies in her evidence and it was claimed by the defence that she had for her own motives falsely implicated the appellants.

12

Arnold and Leslie Huggins were arrested on 12 November 1999. Leslie made no admissions, but Arnold made a statement in which he admitted being present and having a gun in his hand, but claimed that it went off by accident. The admission of this statement was challenged and the judge held a voir dire, at the end of which she admitted the statement in evidence.

13

Arnold's statement was taken by Assistant Superintendent of Police Quashie, in the presence of Sergeant Dick and Mr Ackbar Khan, the justice of the peace who was called in by the police. Mr Khan stated that on arrival he saw Arnold, who asked to speak to him privately and then told him that he was sorry for what he had done. Mr Khan asked him if any threats or promises had been made to him, to which Arnold said No. Arnold did not relate to him any form of ill-treatment by the police.

14

Mr Khan said that Arnold was cautioned and that the statement was then taken by ASP Quashie at his dictation. In cross-examination in the voir dire no suggestion of impropriety or ill-treatment by the police was made to any of the witnesses. The only matter put to Mr Khan was a suggestion that he was mistaken in his evidence about Arnold saying that he was sorry for what he had done. Arnold did not give evidence in the voir dire, nor did his counsel address the judge with any submission that the oral or written statement should be excluded. The judge admitted both.

15

When he came to give evidence in the main trial Arnold Huggins put forward an alibi for the time of the murder and denied having taken part. This time he stated in his evidence that he had been repeatedly beaten in order to induce him to make the written statement. He gave a detailed description of being slapped on the neck and struck on the head, then beaten on the soles of his feet with a broken piece of a pool cue and in the belly with a gun butt wrapped in a wet towel. This ill-treatment was carried out by two officers whom he could not name and who were not present in court at the trial. He was given very little to eat and refused the opportunity to make a telephone call. He claimed that he had made the written statement in order to bring the...

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