A former clerical officer who was convicted of stealing more than $1.1 million from Government coffers walked free on Friday after his conviction was quashed.

The Court of Appeal on Friday ordered that Anderson Ryan Ince the former government clerical officer from Hannays, St Lucy be immediately released from Dodds where he had spent over four years behind bars.

The order was made after Appeal Justices Rajendra Narine, Jefferson Cumberbatch and Francis Belle allowed the appeal and set aside his conviction and ten-year sentence.

“The appellant is to be released immediately,” Justice Narine said as he handed down the ruling.

However, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is expected to reappear before the court on November 10 to address the Justices of Appeal on the issue of a retrial.

Ince was found guilty by a nine-member jury, in October 2017, of stealing and money laundering, sometime between August 1, 2003 and August 1, 2005. The charges, conviction, and sentence related to the sum of $1 118 500 belonging to the Psychiatric Hospital which was vested with the Central Bank of Barbados.

Following his trial, he was sentenced to ten years in prison.

Through his attorneys Angella Mitchell-Gittens and Martie Garnes, he appealed the verdict and sentence on seven grounds.

Justice Narine said the panel found merit in two of those.

“We agree with the ground which has to do with the direction of the trial judge on the standard of proof in respect of the items of circumstantial evidence. The judge directed the jury that they need not find those items of circumstantial evidence proof beyond reasonable doubt.

“We find this to be a material misdirection which would have affected the safety of the conviction. So we uphold the submissions of the appellant,” Justice Narine said.

The Appeal Court also found that there were “certain errors” in the sentencing procedure which the judge adopted.

“In our view [the judge] did not provide a basis for the uplift of two years from the eight-year starting point. We find in the circumstances of this case that there were strong mitigating factors and that the movement actually should have been downward by two years,” Narine added.

The court also upheld the submissions by Mitchell-Gittens and Garnes that the trial judge did not take into consideration the ten-year delay in getting the case before the High Court.

“The trial judge did not take into account the unexplained delay of ten years . . . so we found some merit in that and we find that there is justification for a further downward movement of one year, which would leave us with a sentence of five years, less time served in custody which brings down the sentence to four years and 111 days,” Justine Narine said.

The panel then asked Ince’s attorneys and Senior State Counsel Olivia Davis to address the court on the issue of a retrial.

“It is our respectful position that it would not be appropriate to have a retrial. He has already served his time, having served four calendar years. So there can be no question of a retrial . . . having regard to the revised sentence. It is our submissions that it would not be appropriate for a retrial to be ordered,” Mitchell-Gittens argued.

Davis, meanwhile, told the panel that the DPP was seeking an adjournment in the matter to consider the decision and speak on the issue of a retrial.

The panel, however, agreed that in the circumstances, Ince, who was listening to the proceedings virtually, should be released.

“The decision is that the appeal is allowed, the sentence is quashed. . . . Having quashed the conviction and the sentence, I see no justification for keeping this man incarcerated. So if you wish to be heard on a retrial it is going to be on the condition that he is released today,” the court ruled before adjourning the matter. “The appeal has been disposed of in his favour. There is no justification to keep this man in custody.

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