Guyanese law firm to determine number of wrongful convictions

Last Updated on Monday, 4 September 2023, 14:35 by Denis Chabrol

Attorney-at-Law Dr Dexter Todd.

A Guyanese law firm plans to conduct a survey here and in the wider Caribbean to ascertain how many persons have been convicted wrongfully largely due to the absence of forensic science, Attorney-at-Law Dr Dexter Todd said.

“We will, as a firm, commit to having that survey so that we can have an appreciation of the amount of persons who have suffered at the hands of investigations that were not done correctly,” said Dr Todd who heads the law firm, Todd and Associates.

He made the announcement at the opening ceremony of the practical component of a forensic science course for local lawyers and security services personnel. The PhD. graduate of the Turks and Caicos Islands-based Charisma University said the course “opens our eyes” in the use of forensic science and technology and matching that with traditional methods to aid in accurate convictions and acquittals. “We put the two together we can, of course, be able to help free an innocent man and to catch the correct perpetrator,” he said.

According to the Attorney-at-Law, there were no statistics on wrongful convictions in Guyana and the Caribbean. He said his law firm has access t0 persons who could carry out that survey.

Dr Todd emphasised that forensic science provides objective and scientific evidence to assist in the investigation and prosecution of correct persons.

Dr Stacy Ann Nwodo

Noting that criminal investigators must be able to ascertain when, where, who, why and how the crime was committed before going on a “very good path” in solving the crime. Dr Todd indicated that the world was shifting away from eyewitness accounts especially in light of the common law principle that “a convincing witness can also be a lying witness.” “Therefore, when we create a system in which we only depend on people to give us information…only for the presentation of a criminal file and, therefore, presentation at a court, we have seen time and time again that this has failed,” he said.

Ms Stacy Ann Nwodo, the holder of a doctorate in Forensic Accounting and Audit from Charisma University, told the opening session that sometimes criminals are set free due to a “lack of evidence and, thereby, you have the innocent ones convicted for crimes not committed by them.” “Today’s event marks the beginning of a shared pursuit of the fight against criminality in our societies and we promise you our determination to share our expertise in the area of forensic capacity building with the relevant agencies of government in Guyana if given the opportunity,” said the Head of JJTC Consulting Limited.