Antigua prisoner released after 20 years on death row

After 20 years on death row Lorriston Cornwall has been released from prison in Antigua.

Cornwall was sentenced to death in 1996 for the murder of his former girlfriend. At the time Antigua carried the mandatory death penalty for murder, a practice which has since been found to violate fundamental human rights.

Cornwall’s death sentence was set aside by the High Court in 2015, along with six other prisoners who had also been given the mandatory death sentence. Antigua has not carried out an execution since 1991 and these were the last remaining prisoners on death row.

During Cornwall’s resentencing the High Court was presented with evidence of Cornwall’s rehabilitation and remorse about the crime. It also considered that Cornwall had spent two decades on death row. Following the Privy Council’s ruling in the case of Pratt and Morgan, no prisoner in the Caribbean can spend more than five years on death row without his or her execution constituting inhuman or degrading treatment.

In a judgment delivered on 22 November 2016, the Court took into account the breaches of Cornwall’s rights through the imposition of the unlawful mandatory sentence and prolonged period on death row, as well as the mitigating factors in the case, and resentenced Cornwall to 30 years imprisonment. Given the time deducted for good behaviour and time already served, this means he will be set free immediately.