BELIZE CITY, Mon. June 12, 2017–Today, the Court of Appeal allowed an appeal by Alberto Ical, who was convicted of robbery and rape and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Ical’s sentence was quashed and his conviction was set aside.
Ical’s appeal succeeded on the ground of faulty identification, the Court of Appeal judges found.
Ical would have been free to go home, but he is serving sentences of 10 and 15 years for two other rape convictions. The two sentences are running concurrently; therefore, Ical has been serving a 15-year term in prison for these two crimes. Ical is scheduled to be released from the Belize Central Prison in 2028.
On February 29, 2016, Ical was convicted in the Central District of the Supreme Court in Belmopan for rape and robbery, which allegedly occurred on March 11, 2011. Supreme Court Justice Antoinette Moore sentenced Ical to 25 years on March 21.
Ical was unrepresented at his Supreme Court trial. The complainant had testified that she was accosted by Ical as she was walking to the bus terminal in Belmopan. Ical was armed with a gun, and he demanded that the woman take off her clothing and threatened to shoot her if she did not comply.
The woman said she complied and Ical had sex with her against her will in a drain. She said that afterwards, Ical stole her silver ring and $250.
Ical appealed his case on the grounds that the learned trial judge erred in not excluding the result of the identification parade from the jury’s consideration; the learned trial judge erred in failing to properly explain to the undefended appellant his three options and what was the evidential value of each, and the learned trial judge erred in passing a sentence which would not take effect until 2028, when he is scheduled to be released from prison after he has served his 15-year sentence..
The appeal succeeded on the ground that during the trial, the complainant mentioned that she had seen photos of the appellant at the police station and the learned trial judge had interjected and stopped the accused from cross-examining the complainant along those lines.
The Belize Court of Appeal was of the view that the judge ought not to have stopped the accused from doing that, because it was crucial to the accused’s defense.
Ical, who was unable to afford an attorney, was represented in the Court of Appeal by attorney Anthony Sylvestre, who was appointed by the court to represent him. The Crown was represented by senior Crown counsel Sheiniza Smith.