By FARRAH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Privy Council recently advised the Court of Appeal to give Stephen “Die” Stubbs permission to appeal the 45-year sentence imposed on him for the murder of a police officer and the attempted murder of another man over two decades ago.
Stubbs’ co-accused Andrew “Yogi” Davis also received the greenlight to appeal his sentence, however he died at the prison on October 28.
On March 29, 1999, police officer Jimmy Ambrose was at a nightclub in Nassau with Marcian Scott. A fight broke out in the club between two groups of men and one of those men approached Ambrose and Scott to report what had happened.
While they were outside talking, some other men, who had been part of the other group in the fight, began shooting at Ambrose, Scott and the men they were talking to. Ambrose and Scott attempted to flee, but Ambrose was surrounded by three armed men, alleged to be Stubbs, Davis and Clinton Evans. He was thrown to the ground, kicked, shot and killed. Scott on the other hand, managed to escape.
At the first trial in 2002, Stubbs, Davis and Evans were convicted of murder and sentenced to death, but their convictions were overturned on appeal in March 2004. The second trial took place in 2007, but was abandoned on the first day of the judge’s summing up after reports emerged concerning an approach to a juror.
The third trial, which took place in July 2013, resulted in all three defendants being convicted of murder and attempted murder. They were all sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and ten years’ imprisonment for attempted murder, to run concurrently. Evans was also convicted of firearms offences, receiving three-year concurrent sentences for each charge.
Stubbs, Davis and Evans appealed after the third trial. At the beginning of the proceedings, one of the Court of Appeal justices was asked to recuse himself due to his previous involvement in the second trial. However, the panel rejected the recusal application and, in July 2016, dismissed the appeals. The defendants then appealed to the Privy Council, and in 2018, it allowed the appeals and remitted the case to the Court of Appeal for a rehearing before a “differently constituted court”.
In 2019, Evans’ appeal against his conviction was allowed with no retrial being ordered. Both Stubbs’ and Davis’ appeals against conviction were dismissed, but their appeals against sentence were allowed, replacing their life sentences with 35 and 34 years’ imprisonment.
Stubbs and Davis appealed to the Privy Council against conviction and sentence.
On Monday, the Privy Council said the appeals against conviction by Stubbs and Davis should be dismissed. Still, they said Stubbs and Davis should be granted permission to appeal against their sentence and their appeals should be “allowed to the extent that their sentences for murder should be quashed and their cases remitted to the Court of Appeal for re-sentencing”.
In its judgement, the Privy Council concluded the Crown’s appeal against Evans’ acquittal should be dismissed since the sentences handed down to him for murder and attempted murder were unsafe.
They also granted Stubbs and Davis permission to appeal their murder sentences.
“First, the Court of Appeal was wrong to order that the sentence it substituted should run from the date of the order on appeal as opposed to the date on which the original sentence was imposed following conviction,” the court documents read.
“Second, the Court of Appeal failed to take into account breaches of constitutional rights when passing sentence. Both Stubbs and Davis had not been tried within a reasonable time, in breach of article 20(1) of the Bahamas Constitution, and both had been wrongly sentenced to the mandatory death penalty after the first trial. The Board remits the cases to the Court of Appeal for resentencing, where appropriate weight should be given to these important mitigating factors.”