COA says govt failed to seek leave to appeal Sewell case

A Supreme Court judgment in favor of Matthew Sewell, the Jamaican national detained for almost 10 years without a trial, remains undisturbed after the Court of Appeal on Thursday refused to let the government appeal out of time.

One month after striking out the government’s defense for failing to comply with discovery orders, Justice Ruth Bowe-Darville ruled on September 7, 2020 that Sewell’s constitutional rights had been breached.

Since Bowe-Darville struck out the pleaded defense, she accepted the allegations made in Sewell’s suit as admitted.

Sewell sued for malicious prosecution, false imprisonment and constitutional breaches.

The government filed an appeal against both rulings by the judge on October 26, 2020, two days before Bowe-Darville held a hearing to assess damages.

In its judgment, the Court of Appeal ruled that the government had failed to seek leave from the judge to appeal her interlocutory orders.

As a result, the court could not grant an extension to appeal out of time.

The judgment said, “There would be no basis for this court to extend the time unless and until the court below gives them leave to appeal those interlocutory orders.”

The government could, however, file an extension of time if Bowe-Darville grants leave, the court said.

Sewell claimed that a visit to his father turned into a nightmare after he was accused of raping a six-year-old during his holiday in 2006.

He was detained at prison for two years before he was granted bail in 2008.

In 2009, he was accused once again of rape and remained in custody for four years without a trial.

In August 2013, he was granted bail and both rape complaints were dismissed.

However, two months later he was arrested for housebreaking.

While on bail for that case, Sewell returned to prison after police said he was wanted for murder. But he was never charged.

In 2014, a magistrate dismissed the housebreaking case, but authorities returned him to prison.

In 2015, a judge granted a writ of habeas corpus.

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Artesia Davis

Artesia primarily covers court stories, but she also writes extensively about crime.

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