Judge Greaves let off hook for ‘horny’ comment

  • Inappropriate and inimical to the court’s dignity: former puisne judge Carlisle Greaves

    Inappropriate and inimical to the court’s dignity: former puisne judge Carlisle Greaves


A former Bermuda judge has been criticised by the Court of Appeals for saying he was getting “horny” in the middle of a murder trial.

Carlisle Greaves, who had served as a puisne judge until last month, made the comment as Troy Harris, a witness in the trial of Khyri Smith-Williams, testified that he had shared women with the defendant. Smith-Williams was later convicted of the murder of Colford Ferguson and of using a firearm to commit the offence.

Jerome Lynch, lawyer for Smith-Williams, used the comment and others to say the judge had behaved inappropriately during the trial.

In a decision released on July 25, the Court of Appeal rejected the appeal, but appeal judge Sir Maurice Kay added the court could not condone the judge’s comments. Mr Justice Kay said: “In particular, his comment ‘all this sex is beginning to get me horny’ was inappropriate and inimical to the dignity of court proceedings.

“Mr Lynch was justified in criticising it. However, I do not believe that it damaged the defence or had the potential to undermine the safety of the conviction.”

Smith-Williams was sentenced to serve at least 35 years in prison last October, after he was found guilty of the murder of Mr Ferguson by a majority verdict. Mr Ferguson, a 29-year-old father of one, was shot dead in February 2011, as he worked on a house near the junction of Mangrove Bay Road and East Shore Road in Somerset.

Mr Harris, a witness for the Crown, told the court that Smith-Williams confessed his involvement in the killing to him and admitted that he had driven the getaway motorbike.

He said Smith-Williams also told him that Rasheed Muhammad had pulled the trigger, and that Mr Ferguson was not the intended target.

Smith-Williams launched an appeal against his conviction, which was heard in June.

In the hearing, Mr Lynch criticised Mr Justice Greaves’s handling of the case, particularly his behaviour during Mr Harris’s evidence.

He argued that the judge had done little to rein in the witness’s use of vulgar language and that the “tacit approval” of the behaviour had lent it credibility.

In transcripts presented to the Court of Appeal, Mr Harris cursed repeatedly, called Mr Muhammad a f****t and made repeated references to “f***ing p***y”.

But the higher court found Mr Justice Greaves’s response to the unsavoury language was not prejudicial.

Mr Justice Kay wrote: “Anybody familiar with serious criminal trials, in this jurisdiction in recent years, knows the judge has a very personal style, whereby he engages with witnesses, defendants, juries and advocates in an informal way, often using casual language and rich metaphors.

“In relation to Harris, it was important that the judge should facilitate his evidence, whatever it turned out to be.

“If he took the view, and I suspect he did, that the best course was to let the witness have his say, subject to the rules of evidence, rather than seek to inhibit him, it seems to me that that was an exercise of judgment which was open to him.”

Mr Lynch also sought to overturn the verdict on the basis of new evidence, including an unsworn affidavit from Mr Muhammad.

The Court of Appeal heard Mr Muhammad had visited Mr Lynch’s offices after the trial had ended and said he had not come forward sooner because he was afraid of reprisal.

An affidavit was produced, but never signed by Mr Muhammad. Mr Justice Kay said an unsworn affidavit from an alleged accomplice in the crime “does not immediately inspire confidence”.

The appeal judge wrote: “There are insurmountable problems in the way of admitting the so-called fresh evidence of Mr Muhammad.

“The notion that a conviction for premeditated murder might be set aside, on the basis of an unsworn affidavit attributed to the alleged principal offender, where the only other material attributable to him is his denial in interview when under arrest and caution seven years after the event, is unattractive in the extreme.”

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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