Barrister Gary Pons of 5 St Andrews Hill, joined the defence team for Ann Patton against the Costa Rican Public Prosecutor, securing her second acquittal for the murder of her husband, multi-millionaire John Bender, in Costa Rica.
John Bender died of a single gunshot to the head in the bedroom of the Benders’ home in the Costa Rican jungle, at 12.15am on January 8th 2010. Ann was the only witness to her husband’s death, and was found by her security team next to his body following her radio call for help. At 11.00am she gave investigators a witness statement in the nearby city of San Isidro de El General, stating that her husband had taken his own life. John Bender had documented mental health difficulties, and was suffering from suicidal tendencies in the months leading up to his death.
Ann Patton was first acquitted of John Bender’s murder in January 2013 but was subsequently retried in 2014 following an appeal filed by state prosecutors. She was found guilty in May 2014 and sentenced to 22 years in prison. Patton served nine months of her sentence in El Buen Pastor prison in Desamaparados before an appellate court in Cartago threw out the guilty verdict. In February 2015 the appellate court ordered a retrial, commencing on August 10th 2015. She was acquitted on Monday 7th September 2015, by unanimous vote of the three-judge panel.
Gary Pons was appointed to advise throughout the trial on the defence strategy. He worked with the Costa Rican Advocate Fabio Oconitrillo, Jersey Advocate Stephen Baker of Baker and Partners and Sonia O Donnell, an Appellate Attorney from Miami who acted in the prosecution of former military dictator Manuel Noriega.