Sixteen years after his initial conviction and death sentence for the 12-year old Lokeisha Nanton’s murder, 47 year old Patrick Lovelace is still languishing in prison on death row – the lone death-row inmate in St Vincent and the Grenadines, according to prison authorities.
A prison status presented to the High Court at the close of the criminal assizes showed that Lovelace, who came to national and regional attention following his arrest and charge for the brutal sexual molestation and murder of the Sion Hill resident in July 2002, remained on death-row amid pressure from international human rights organizations to have death penalties abolished and following a Privy Council ruling that make it almost impossible for convicted persons to be executed in its “worst of the worst” case scenario.
The nude body of the twelve year old pannist was discovered early morning hanging from a mango tree on a private property just off the public road leading from Sion Hill to Cane Garden. She was raped and strangled.
Lovelace was arrested and charged about a year after the brutal killing. At his trial in 2004, he was convicted and sentenced to hang. He appealed to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal and his conviction and sentence were quashed. A retrial was ordered.
In 2009, he was again convicted at his trial and sentenced to hang.
In 2012, he appealed his conviction but lost. In 2014, he made an application to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal for an extension of time to file his appeal, this time against his death sentence. But, the court said it had no jurisdiction to grant such extension in cases where the death penalty was imposed. On that basis the application was denied.
In this jurisdiction of St Vincent and the Grenadines the law requires that a person convicted must within 14 days of his conviction file an application for leave to appeal, if so desired. But, convicted persons with death sentences are excluded from that privilege or right.
Through the efforts of Lovelace’s lawyer, Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, the matter attracted international attention and so international human rights organizationa the Death Penalty Project took the matter to the London-based Privy Council challenging the constitutionality of legal provision which excluded persons sentenced to death.
The Dealth Penalty Project was successful as the Privy Council ruled that the legal provision was unconstitutional.
As a result of the Privy Council ruling, the matter went back to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal. At a sitting in January, this year, the court of appeal granted Lovelace time to appeal his death sentence.
In some jurisdictions, the death penalty no longer exists. In St Vincent and the Grenadines, the death penalty was once almost automatic on conviction for murder. However, following international pressure by watchdog organizations and Privy Council rulings the court here has relaxed its impositions. However, the death penalty has not been removed from the law books.