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Name Charge Outcome Punishment Appeal
Zachariah Kerr Practising obeah Guilty Imprisonment Appealed View details
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Start date of trial
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Appeal court
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Jamaica Gleaner dataset 1890-1939
Title/Headline/Description Publication/Reference Date
Yesterday's Sitting of Appellant Court in Metropolis. The Matters which were brought before their Honours the Three Judges. Obeah Appeal Fails Gleaner 15/05/1928

Mr Manley said that the defendant had been convicted by the Acting Resident Magistrate for Westmoreland for practising obeah and sentenced to nine months. The case raised the question as to what acts constituted the offence of obeah. It did not seem to have been disputed that the defendant had formed a church on his own and was a leader of a sect - there was nothing to show that the sect was unlawful. The only question might be whether he practised medicine. There was nothing to prevent a man from believing in the existence of spirits, be they good or evil, or whether there was any efficiency in healing by prayer or otherwise. The Acting Chief Justice said the question was whether the defendant came within the meaning of the Obeah Law so it would be better to see what the evidence was. Mr Manley submitted that there was no pretence at supernatural power - a meaningless ceremony was gone through, and the man told that by faith and prayer he could be cured. He was also told that if he drank a little salt and water that would make him feel better. Mr Justice Clarke said 'A medical practitioner might tell a patient you have been bewitched, I'll give you a pill to cure you.' He also talked about three lights burning in the morning before the prayer meeting which were symbolic. Proceeding Counsel submitted that the only pretence was that by faith and prayer he could have been cured. There was evidence that there was singing and prayer. The complainant said the accused told ...

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  • Clothing, bodily characteristics or age of defendant
  • Notable case
  • Religious affiliation stated
  • Ritual description