Caribbean Court of Appeal orders retrial of sex case

An Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal has ruled that his conviction and sentence be quashed and a retrial be convened.

Bellot was convicted in January 2010 by high court judge Justice Brian Cottle and appeared at a court of appeal hearing at the Parliament building on Monday where his lawyer Dawn Yearwood-Stewart put forth submissions.

Among several other grounds presented in her written submissions, Yearwood-Stewart had argued that the judge had not properly conducted a voir dire; in that, the complainant and another key child witness had not satisfied an oath test which would have basically bind them to tell the truth.

She said that when it was indicated that both children could take the oath (swear on the Bible), they both affirmed. Yearwood-Stewart argued that the level of vocabulary contained in the affirmation may not have been understood by the witnesses.

“The learned trial judge did not touch the nature of the oath at all,” she told the court.

The Justices of appeal however did not rule in favor of this argument but allowed the appeal on three other grounds which were not discussed.

The judges also ruled that the Director of Public Prosecutions Gene Pestaina, would decide the outcome of the matter as it regards to a trial.  Bellot will remain in custody pending an application at the high court.

The maximum penalty for such offense is 14 years behind bars.

The defendant had also been tried for indecent assault.

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