Basseterre, St Kitts, September 11, 2019 – A feeling of outrage and fear is being expressed by concerned citizens over what they called “the free roaming in our communities of a double murderer serving two life sentences” at Her Majesty’s Prison.
The alarm was raised last week after photos appearing on social media earlier show convicted Romeo “Buncome” Cannonier, kissing a male person dressed in ladies garments in the glare of the public.
Cannonier is serving two life sentences at Her Majesty’s Prison for the shooting death of Police Constable #454 Delvin Nisbett on July 25, 2004. Nisbett was gunned down while he walked on the public road in Dieppe Bay. Cannonier was also sentenced to life in prison for masterminding from within the prison walls, the murder of Gavin “Magilla” Gilbert, a key witness in the Nisbett murder on March 25, 2005. In the High Court trials, Cannonier was sentenced to death but two life sentences were imposed on appeal.
The individuals, a group of women, who wished not be identified for fear of victimization or reprisals, expressed concern over the “apparent freedom of him (Cannonier) to go here, there and everywhere and apparently unsupervised.”
“We are mostly concerned over what appears to be a norm. We are doubly fearful for the safety of residents, especially women, girls and young boys. Why should he have a high level of freedom and privileges enjoyed by persons who have never committed a crime? He ought to be incarcerated within the four walls of the prison instead of being allowed to be out in public seemingly unsupervised,” said one of the individuals.
“To be frank this is not the first time he is working unsupervised in the communities. It has happened several times before. He is being used by a family member of the prime minister to construct houses and look after his pigs,” a second woman said.
“What does he have to lose if he commits another crime? ” said the third woman.
Cannonier was sentenced to death for the murder of police constable Delvin Nisbett in 2007.
Court records and media reports state that during the trial, evidence was produced that the gun used in the killing of the police officer Nisbett was the property of Ambassador Michael Powell, who is currently, a Special Envoy in the Office of Prime Minister Dr the Hon Timothy Harris. Powell in his evidence for the prosecution had identified the murder weapon as his stolen licensed firearm.
Cannonier, who was in prison for the murder of Nisbett, was the mastermind behind the execution of Gavin “Magilla” Gilbert, a key witness for the prosecution in Nisbett’s murder.
On July 15, 2008, Cannonier, along with Louis “Tolool” Gardener; Ruedeney “Deney” Williams and Sheldon “Hatcher” Isaac were sentenced to death for the murder of Gilbert, who was gunned down on March 21, 2005.
According to evidence presented, the four men had played unique roles in Gilbert’s orchestrated death. Cannonier masterminded the plan from prison. Williams was the transporter and whistleblower, while Isaac and Gardner were the executioners.
All men according to court records appealed their death sentences handed down in high court trials.
Cannonier, the sole appellant in the first appeal, was tried for the murder of the off-duty police officer Delvin Nisbett.
The four appellants in the second appeal, namely, Sheldon Isaac, Romeo Cannonier, Ruedeney Williams, and Louis Gardiner, were later tried for the murder of Gavin Gilbert, who was due to appear as a prosecution witness in Cannonier’s murder trial.
Cannonier filed his Notice of Appeal on February 8, 2008, two days outside the fourteen day time limit prescribed by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.
On October 30, 2008, the Court of Appeal dismissed Cannonier’s application for extension of time to appeal, on grounds that it had no jurisdiction to extend the time for filing his Notice of Appeal. The Privy Council in London subsequently made a conservatory order staying the execution of Cannonier, and, on May 13, 2010, directed the Court of Appeal to consider arguments on the constitutionality of section 52 of the Court Act, the extension of time to appeal, and the merits of the appeal.
The appellants in the second appeal filed their Notices of Appeal one day outside the 14-day time limit. Their applications for leave to appeal out of time were dismissed by the Court of Appeal, which held that in view of the absolute language of that section and prior judgments by the Privy Council, they had no discretion to extend time in capital cases. However, the Court granted a stay of execution and a further extension on that stay in order to allow the appellants the opportunity to apply to the Privy Council for special leave to appeal.
The Privy Council made the same order in this appeal, which was that the death penalty not be carried out on the appellants until the determination of their appeals, and that the Court of Appeal consider the constitutionality of section 52(2) of the Court Act, the application for extension of time to appeal and the merits of the appeal.
During trial, the Court of Appeal dismissed Cannonier’s appeal against conviction and upheld his conviction but quashed his sentence and imposed a sentence of life imprisonment instead.
In the second appeal, two of the judges in the Appeal Court – J A Mitchell and J A Edwards – allowed Isaac’s appeal against conviction and quashed his conviction and sentence.
Cannonier’s appeal against conviction was dismissed, his conviction was affirmed, his appeal against sentence was allowed, the death sentence was set aside and substituted with a sentence of life imprisonment which is to run consecutive to the life sentence imposed on him in the first appeal, with two of the judges.
Chief Justice Rawlins dissenting dismissed Gardiner’s appeal against conviction and affirmed his conviction but allowed his appeal against sentence. The death sentence was set aside and substituted with a sentence of life imprisonment; Williams’ appeal against conviction was dismissed, his conviction affirmed but his appeal against sentence was allowed. The death sentence was set aside and substituted with a sentence of life in prison.