Court frees man who was wrongly detained past his release date

The Court of Appeal on Wednesday ordered the immediate release of a convict who was wrongly detained past his release date as a result of an administrative error.

Court of Appeal President Sir Michael Barnett said, “It is imperative that magistrates ensure that the warrants that are sent to the prison accurately reflect the sentences that are imposed.”

The miscarriage of justice came to light after Sidney Hart lodged an appeal against his sentences for housebreaking and stealing. He did not have a lawyer.

Hart had spent one year on remand when he changed his plea to guilty at an appearance before Magistrate Rengin Johnson in February of 2020.

After taking into consideration the time that Hart had spent on remand, the court imposed concurrent sentences, the longest of which was 12 months. The sentence imposed by the magistrate expired in February 2021.

However, the warrants sent to the prison ordered the sentences to run consecutively, leading prison officials to believe that Hart was to serve three years in prison as of February 2020.

Acknowledging the error, Erica Kemp did not oppose the appeal.

Sir Michael said, “In the circumstances, for whatever reason, the records at prison suggest that he was to be imprisoned for three years from February of 2020, which is clearly wrong.

“In the circumstances, this appeal must be allowed. And, unless Mr. Hart is being held on some other matters, he must be released immediately. I say no more. Mr. Hart, your appeal is allowed and you are to be released immediately.”

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Artesia Davis

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

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