Skip to main content arrow-down arrow-tail-right arrow-triangle-right calendar camera compass download email eye facebook flag mail phone pin play send square-right tag twitter youtube badge message

Court Accepts Abused Woman Suffered From Battered Woman Syndrome

  • News
  • 4 Dec 2015

Veola Pook, who killed her husband in response to years of physical, sexual and emotional abuse was granted parole and released last week.

In December 2008, Pook, 57, threw gasoline on Orlando Vasquez and set him alight in their home in Rancho Dolores Village, Belize District. Vasquez died in the hospital from his burns two days later.

Pook was initially convicted of murder in 2011 and sentenced to life imprisonment. However, in March 2014, the Court of Appeal in Belize quashed her conviction and ordered a retrial. This time, Pook was re-indicted for the offence of manslaughter after the Director of Public Prosecutions considered a psychiatric evaluation of her mental state at the time of the killing. Pook pleaded guilty to manslaughter and the matter swiftly moved to a sentencing hearing.

The Court accepted the psychiatric evaluation conducted by Dr. Richard Latham, a UK forensic psychiatrist, and his findings that Pook was suffering from Battered Woman Syndrome at the time of the offence. The Court was heavily guided by the findings of the Court of Appeal in Lavern Longsworth v The Queen. In October 2015, Pook was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment. Given that Pook had been in custody since her arrest in January 2009, Pook was granted parole by the Parole Board and released last week.

Iliana Swift and Leslie Mendez, Belizean attorneys-at-law, were aided by London based organisation The Death Penalty Project, which became involved after concerns that a miscarriage of justice had taken place.

Dr Richard Latham of Forensic Psychiatry Chambers was instructed pro bono to carry out an assessment of Pook and to provide an expert report for the Court.

Latest news

Moving Away From the Death Penalty in Guyana
Read More
Why John Hayes MP is so wrong on the death penalty
Read More
Malaysia could lead way in abolishing death penalty
Read More
Launch of new resource: ‘Sentencing in Capital Cases’
Read More
Juvenile offender released in Belize after Caribbean Court of Justice quashes murder conviction
Read More
DPP returns to Taiwan with Keir Starmer QC MP
Read More
Moving away from the mandatory death penalty
Read More
Keir Starmer visits Taiwan to lobby against death penalty
Read More
New project will seek to build movement for abolition of the death penalty in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean States
Read More
Simons Muirhead and Burton LLP recognised for its commitment to The Death Penalty Project
Read More
Sajid Javid has betrayed our values by giving way on the death penalty
Read More
Caribbean Court of Justice strikes down mandatory death penalty in Barbados
Read More
Moving away from the death penalty in Zimbabwe - has the time come for change?
Read More
New opinion study shows Zimbabwean public ready to accept death penalty abolition
Read More
All prisoners serving life sentence in Belize to be re-sentenced following major decision of the Caribbean Court of Justice
Read More
Split Decision (Private Eye on the JCPC's judgment in Jay Chandler)
Read More
UK judges uphold death sentence of Trinidad prisoner despite him “more likely than not” having serious mental illness
Read More

Stay up-to-date with our work