Killer of Wailers star loses last appeal

Jamaica's most notorious death-row prisoner, the man convicted of killing reggae star Peter Tosh - a founder member of the Wailers - yesterday lost his final appeal to the Privy Council in London, writes Heather Mills.

But the council, the last court of appeal for 16 Caribbean countries, cleared two other Jamaicans who had spent more than five years on death row for murder.

In rulings that will affect trial procedures in Jamaica, Nigel Neil, convicted in 1990 of a fatal shooting, and Rupert Crossdale, convicted of stabbing a man to death in 1989, will be freed.

But Dennis Lobban, con- victed in 1988 of killing Tosh - who sprang to international fame with Bob Marley and the Wailers - and two of his friends, stays on Jamaica's death row where men spend 23 hours a day in overcrowded insanitary cells.

The five Law Lords - Lords Goff, Mustill, Slynn, Nicholls and Steyn - ruled that although there had also been irregularities at his trial, there had been no miscarriage of justice.

Lobban is unlikely to hang. Although he has not been formally reprieved, a previous Privy Council ruling that to be held in such conditions for so long amounted to "cruel and inhuman" treatment saved all inmates who have spent five years or more on death row. It is an argument that has failed to gain credibility in the lower courts in the United States, where prisoners often spend 10 years or more on death row.

Last Friday, Nick Ingram, due to go to the electric chair last night, tried to use it in a last-ditch attempt to save his life.

However, the Supreme Court recently urged district courts to consider the ruling.