BELIZE CITY, Fri. July 5, 2019– The Court of Appeal has ruled that life sentences without the possibility of parole were in violation of the Belize Constitution, and since the ruling in November 2016, convicted murders serving life sentences have had their life sentences changed to a fixed date sentence.
In 2002, Leslie Pipersburgh, 45, and Patrick Robateau, 42, were found guilty of murdering two KBH security guards, Kevin Alvares and Fidel Mai, at the Bowen and Bowen Ltd. compound on Slaughterhouse Road, in Belize City. The murders occurred while the two were carrying out an armed robbery at the Bowen and Bowen compound.
Robateau and Pipersburgh appeared in the Supreme Court of Justice Colin Williams, where they entered mitigation pleas on their own behalf. They appeared along with their attorney, Hector Guerra.
Guerra made submissions urging the court to sentence the two to a fixed prison term between 20 and 30 years in length.
Guerra told the court that both men have made progress as a result of the rehabilitation programs available to them at the Belize Central Prison.
Robateau told the court that he has spent 17 years in prison and that he was first incarcerated at the age of 25 and that now he is a man of 42-years of age.
Robateau also expressed remorse for the lives that he had taken, telling the court that he wished the family of his victims were present in court, as he would have asked them for their forgiveness.
Robateau went on to explain that he has become a prison trustee and has been working as a computer technician in the prison. He asked the court to show mercy on him when determining his new sentence.
Pipersburgh explained that he has participated in a number of rehabilitation programs that the prison offers and that he felt that he had transformed his life since going to prison.
Crown Counsel Portia Staine asked Justice Williams to consider a sentence of 35 years.
After listening to both convicts, Justice Williams told them that he needed time to consider what they had said to him, and so he adjourned the sentencing to September 18.
A total of four persons were killed on the night of the robbery, and when the trial of the men ended in March 2002, both men were convicted of the four counts of murder. The two appealed their sentences and in a second trial concluded in April 2011, instead of conviction on the four counts of murder, Robateau and Pipersburgh were convicted on two counts of murder.
Cherry Tucker and David Flowers, a couple that the two men came upon in a car in the Coral Grove area, were shot and killed, but they were never convicted for the murder of Tucker and Flowers.
Robateau and Pipersburgh appealed their conviction all the way to the Privy Council, which, at the time of their appeal, was the highest court in Belize’s judicial system. The Privy Council had ordered a new trial and it was after that trial that Robateau and Pipersburgh were convicted of the two counts of murder and sentenced to serve life in prison.