Posted: Sunday, May 22, 2022. 7:55 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Former murder convict and parolee Hillaire Sears is a free man again after the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) announced on Friday it quashed the decision of the Parole Board to revoke his parole.
It found against the Parole Board, Minister of National Security, and the Attorney General of Belize for breach of Sears’ constitutional rights and ordered his immediate release, but did not order damages sought by Sears.
Sears was first convicted of murder in 2002, reduced to manslaughter on appeal, and served 10 years of a 25-year prison sentence before being released on parole days before Christmas in 2012. He found employment at the prison but in April of 2014 was suspected of using cannabis in violation of a parole condition that he would not indulge in the illegal use, sale, possession, distribution, or transportation or be in the presence of controlled drugs. After a urine test confirmed apparent use of cannabis the Parole Board issued a revocation of his parole on May 28, 2014, without granting Sears the opportunity to be heard.
Sears first brought a constitutional claim for declaratory relief concerning breaches of constitutional rights, damages, and his release from prison four years later, but it was rejected by the Supreme Court and then the Court of Appeal which cited that the case was one for judicial review and that in any event the parole violation was clearly proven.
But the CCJ overruled them, declaring that the manner in which Sears was re-incarcerated breached his constitutional right to personal liberty guaranteed under section 5 of the Constitution and that the Parole Board’s revocation of his parole breached his constitutional right to personal liberty and equal protection of the law as guaranteed by sections 5 and 6 of the Constitution.
Leslie Mendez and Hector Guerra appeared for the Appellant. Samantha Matute-Tucker, Assistant Solicitor General appeared for the Respondents. The matter was heard by the Honourable Mr. Justice Adrian Saunders, President and the Honourable Justices Jacob Wit, Winston Anderson, Maureen Rajnauth-Lee, and Andrew Burgess. Ms. Full reasons for the decision are to be given in due course.
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