St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The London-based Privy Council has dismissed the appeal against conviction for murder filed by Nevisian Warrington Phillip.
Phillip was in November 2008 convicted of stabbing his estranged wife Shermelle Phillip to death in the driveway of her Brown Hill home in February 2007.
The former West Indian cricketer was sentenced to life imprisonment in February 2009.
He filed an appeal of the conviction which the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeals dismissed in March of 2012.
The matter went before the Law Lords of the Privy Council in January of this year, and the judgment deferred. Phillip was represented by Simons, Muirhead and Burton LLP in the UK, while Special Prosecutor Dane Hamilton QC and Director of Public Prosecutions Valston Graham represented the State.
Lord Hughes handed down the decision on Tuesday (May 16).
According to the judgment, the Council asked to consider fresh evidence filed by the appellant, which consisted of statements from two of his sisters and a report from a well-known English expert in forensic science including DNA analysis.
Phillip had been arrested for the crime while at the Alexandra Hospital after he reportedly collapsed when he heard the news of his wife’s death. Having been taken to the police station, his hands were swabbed, which examination revealed DNA matching the deceased.
In their statements, his sisters Ilena and Bonnilyn claim that they were both present in the hospital with Phillip when the officer in the case, Corporal Caines, arrived to see him. They assert that they both saw that Caines, who had come from recovering the deceased from her car, was noticeably contaminated with blood. Additionally, they assert that Ilena protested strongly to Caines that he could not deal with the appellant in that condition, because she was concerned about contamination.
The Board refused to admit this evidence, saying it was quite satisfied that it was not credible. The Lords pointed out that these assertions by the sisters, one of whom was at the time a police officer of some 20 years with more than five of them spent in the Criminal Investigations Department, were only made for the first time late in 2016.
The judgment read, “There could be no possible reason for not advancing her evidence at the trial if it were what she was then saying. It is simply not credible that she would have permitted the trial to continue without her assertions being advanced, and her evidence called. Even supposing that that possibility could be contemplated, it is even less credible that when the appellant was convicted, there was not the strongest possible protest at trial counsel’s failure to use damning material. Still less is it believable that when an appeal against conviction was mounted and heard the family should allow trial counsel to continue to act, and once more to ignore potentially vital evidence.”
Phillip’s sister Ilena, the police officer, also purported to provide an alibi for him, eight years after the trial, stating that he arrived at the family home at about the same time as she did, shortly after 7 pm, that is to say more or less at the time of the murder, and did not go out for about an hour.
According to the Lords, that this statement too should appear only at this juncture is “a plain indication that it is not credible”.
The Law Lords ruled that the expert report tendered commented on the risks of contamination assuming the facts as stated by the two sisters, was irrelevant once their evidence was rejected.