St. John’s Antigua- The sentencing hearing for murder convicts Avie Howell and Kaniel Martin has yet again been adjourned, this time due to the unavailability of lead defence counsel St. Lucian-based attorney Marcus Foster, who represents Martin.
The court was notified yesterday by Michael Archibald, junior counsel to Foster in this matter, that Foster is ill.
He said he was requested to ask for an adjournment to allow for sufficient time for Foster, who is receiving treatment in Trinidad, to recuperate.
“Unfortunately I was told at 4 pm yesterday (Thursday) that Foster is in Trinidad and Tobago receiving treatment for an ailment that is quite serious. He asked me to seek an adjournment.
“If he is unable to come on the next occasion I will deal with the matter. I am not in a position today to make representation on behalf of Foster,” Archibald said.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Anthony Armstrong told the court that he became aware of the situation only yesterday morning.
Armstrong said he was under the impression that the sentencing hearing was set for 11 am because of other matters before the court. He said he had told Dr James King to show up for that time.
“I fully understand Foster’s position but it poses a problem for persons who the prosecution has to call to testify in this matter,” Armstrong said.
Howell’s attorney Maureen Payne Hyman said she had no choice but to accede to the request in the interest of justice.
Payne Hyman added that the sentencing hearing has been delayed for “several months now”-a situation she deems as unfortunate.
She said she is hopeful that the matter will be dispensed with before the year ends.
High Court judge Justice Richard Floyd referred to the development as disappointing. He said, however, that illnesses can occur without warning. Justice Floyd said that the moment must be a disappointing one for the accused and members of the deceased family.
He offered his apologies to Dr King for uprooting his schedule.
“His (Dr King’s) time is precious. From time to time these things (illnesses) do happen. Unwanted illnesses occur without warning. It does happen and I am cognizant of the time that has passed since the convictions to the day of sentencing,” Justice Floyd said.
The new date for the sentencing hearing is Thursday December 8.
Howell and Martin were found guilty of the murders of British couple Benjamin and Catherine Mullany and Jamaican Woneta Anderson.
The Mullany’s, both 31, were shot in their cottage at Coco’s Hotel on July 27, 2008 while on their honeymoon. Anderson was killed in her Browne’s Avenue shop on August 8, 2008.