I posted this story before the sentence but I am shocked to hear they were given the death penalty. This is too harsh for two middle-aged women in my opinion.
The Judge took into account that it was premeditated.
How many murders are accidental? I don't think this is the first premeditated murder the judge ever ruled on. When thieves targetted your home for a midnight robbery it's premeditated. Why kill two healthy women and spare the men?
After admitting to killing his father-in-law, whom he bludgeoned to the head with an axe, Veeram Dias was yesterday sentenced to spend the next 14 years behind bars by Justice Sandil Kissoon.
Dias was one of three persons charged with murdering Nonpareil pensioner Roger Manikam.
A fourth person, Devon Brown, who had been charged with being an accessory to the crime after he helped dispose of the body walked out the court a free man yesterday after the judge informed him that he would be granted remission for the two years he had been awaiting trial. Two years is the maximum penalty for the crime of being an accessory after the fact.
Both Dias and Brown threw themselves at the mercy of the court yesterday morning, accepting responsibility for their respective roles in the crime.
Dias pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder but admitted instead to the lesser count of manslaughter, accepting that he had unlawfully killed Manikam on April 2nd, 2016.
For his part, Brown admitted that he, knowing that Dias, Nalinie Manikam and another person had murdered Roger, did on that day and thereafter, receive, relieve, comfort and assisted them.
Nalinie is the daughter of the deceased.
Presenting the prosecution’s case, state attorney Mandel Moore said that the now dead Manikam was lured into the kitchen of his 237 Section B Nonpareil house by Dias, Nalinie’s reputed husband, who also lived at the address.
The court heard that there, Dias unleashed blows on the man, hitting him to the head with an axe. Although the man fell, he thereafter continued inflicting more blows.
The prosecutor said that sometime after Dias called his friend Brown to the scene and they both placed Manikam’s body in Brown’s car and drove to the Coldingen Embankment Road, where they dumped the body.
The cause of death, Moore said, was given as severe haemorrhaging, resulting from blunt trauma to the head.
In a plea of mitigation, attorney Latchmie Rahamat, who represented Dias, sought to impress upon the court that while her client takes full responsibility for his actions, there were certain existing circumstances which precipitated the drastic actions he took on the fateful day.
After fully disclosing to the court the circumstances, including the physical abuse of Nalinie, Rahamat, citing case law, begged the court to be merciful to the young first-time offender.
She asked the court to also consider that the 22-year-old had pleaded guilty at the first given opportunity, saving the court considerable time in otherwise having to conduct a trial.
Noting that her client was only 21 years old when the offence was committed, counsel stressed that her client, who turns 23 later this month, not only took responsibility for his actions but has also expressed remorse for those actions.
She said he realises that his actions resulted in loss of life.
Counsel also described her client as being a model prisoner, while noting that he is very active in Bible studies behind bars.
Given a chance to address the court, Dias, in a tearful voice, said that he was sorry, while noting that it was only because of the circumstances to which his attorney had earlier alluded, that he did what he did.
“Please have mercy on me,” he quietly begged the judge.
Meanwhile, presenting his plea in mitigation on behalf of Brown, whom he represented, attorney Dexter Todd said that the father of two, who was 24 years old at the time, had no antecedents.
The lawyer said his client related receiving a call from Dias on the night of the killing requesting a vehicle jumpstart and thereafter proceeded to his friend’s home.
Upon arrival, Todd said that Brown was told certain things, but had at that time been unaware of the killing. He stressed that all his client had been told was that “there was an incident.”
Thereafter, counsel said that Brown, because of his ignorance of the law, proceeded to assist his friend, under the misconception that because he had not been present during the killing, he would not be held responsible for nothing.
Todd said that it was only after his arrest that Brown realized his error and the fact that he should have made a police report.
Noting that his client has had time to think about his actions, Todd pleaded with the court for mercy, advancing that if there is a person fit to return to society, it would be Brown.
Addressing Brown, Justice Kissoon said that statute provides for a maximum of years, but since he had already spent that behind bars, with remission he would be free to go.
The visibly-relieved Brown, moments before his handcuffs were released, expressed his gratitude to the court.
For Dias, however, the judge commenced sentencing at a base of 30 years, explaining that the statute so stipulates for guilty pleas to manslaughter. From that he deducted eight years for the youth’s early plea.
Another five years were deducted for his lawyer’s plea in mitigation and an additional one year was subtracted for the remorse expressed by Dias.
From the remaining 16 years, the court granted remission for the two years he has been incarcerated.
While noting that the court was moved by his attorney’s plea in mitigation, the judge made it clear to Dias that his actions had to be viewed in the context of a civilised society, while adding, “Your conduct cannot be justified.”
Manikam, 65, was discovered near a drain, some five corners from his house, along the Coldingen Embankment Road. There was a chop wound to the back of his head.
A year after being charged with shooting at a hotel employee, 70-year-old Leila Jagdeo was yesterday sentenced to 18 months in jail after being found guilty of the crime.
Jagdeo, of Lot 3 Ogle, East Coast Demerara, was found guilty of discharging a loaded firearm at Brandon Collins on March 30th, 2017.
After being charged in April last year, Jagdeo was released on $100,000 bail pending the outcome of her trial before Magistrate Alisha George at the Sparendaam Magistrate’s Court.
Collins, a maintenance worker of the Alpha Hotel at Ogle, was clearing vines from the hotel’s fence when he was asked to leave, by Jagdeo, the owner of the house next door.
After he ignored her, the then, 69-year-old woman, who was a licensed holder, armed herself and discharged a round at Collins, which struck him in the abdomen.
A hotel staffer had claimed that Collins had turned his back to remove himself from the fence when the woman shot him.
“He had been trimming the trees that was over the fence. He had finished the front and was working at the back and the woman was standing on her verandah. She turned and tell him to come off the fence before she shoot him,” the employee, who asked not to be named, had related to this newspaper.
Collins, of Manchester, Corentyne, Berbice, was admitted at the Georgetown Public Hospital for some time after the shooting.
Hofosawa Awena Rutherford was yesterday afternoon sentenced to a total of 98 years in jail for killing her two children, Hodaciea Cadogan and Jabari Cadogan Jnr, whom she poisoned in 2014.
Justice Navindra Singh, who sentenced Rutherford on two counts of man-slaughter for the killing of four-year-old daughter Hodaciea and one-year-old son Jabari Jr, said he could not understand why the woman was not indicted for murder, while noting that he found the killings to have been premeditated.
“Everything points to murder,” the judge opined.
Referencing the evidence presented at trial, Justice Singh said he could not fathom how Rutherford could possibly have mistaken the rat poison that she administered to her children for anything else.
Her claim had been that as far as she knew she had bought and given to them “cold tablets.”
The judge remarked that the poison, in the form of carbon tablets, carries a pungent odour, which would have become evident from the moment its packaging was opened.
He said the fumigation scent would not be missed as such tablets do just that, “fumigate.”
Meanwhile, in her brief address to the court, a tearful Rutherford begged Justice Singh for mercy, declaring that she has her imperfections and has made her fair share of mistakes.
“I am not perfect. I have my shortcomings and made my mistakes in this life,” the woman said, as she turned towards her many relatives seated in the public gallery to whom she apologised for having caused shame and pain.
“I am sorry for all the shame and pain I caused to you,” she told members of her family, who at that point were also moved to tears.
A sobbing and barely audible Rutherford, who professed her love for her children, said that no one in the world could have loved them more than she did, while adding she prayed their souls rest in peace.
While the woman begged for mercy, however, State Prosecutor Abigail Gibbs asked the judge to impose the maximum penalty, while highlighting the manner in which the children’s lives were taken from them.
There were sighs of distress from the woman’s family when Gibbs made the call for the maximum penalty.
In an impassioned address, Gibbs said that Rutherford knew exactly what she was doing.
“Their lives were taken by their own mother,” the prosecutor lamented, before adding that the woman’s role was to love and care for them, but that she had instead failed them both in this regard.
Addressing defence attorney Adrian Thompson’s earlier submission of his client having had “a hard life and financial challenges growing up,” Gibbs emphasised that such circumstances do not justify killing, “especially your own children.”
For his part, Thompson, who begged for mercy on his client’s behalf, said that having reviewed the probation report done on her, he gleaned that “the circumstances of her upbringing were not ideal.”
He said that the young woman dropped out of school at age 16 after becoming pregnant, and that she had also lost her mother at a tender age.
In spite of these challenges, however, Thompson said that Rutherford forged ahead and had been in the process of seeking employment with the Guyana Police Force.
According to counsel, the woman had not only been beset by financial difficulties but she had also not been in the best of health “mentally.”
The lawyer declared that “stress can cause people to do things which they would not have ordinarily done,” noting that the woman was still grieving and therefore he pressed the judge to use his discretion in sentencing.
After expressing his bewilderment over the charge of manslaughter being instituted instead of the capital charge, the judge took the position that Rutherford knew what she was doing.
From her address to the court, however, Justice Singh added that it seemed the woman had finally accepted what she had done.
Emphasising that he had found evidence of premeditation, the judge commenced sentencing on each count at a base of 30 years. He then added 10 years because the victims were children, five years because they were the convict’s children and another five years for the use of poison.
Thereafter, he added an additional 10 years for what he found was a premeditated act.
Therefrom, he subtracted eight years from the first count for the probation report and another seven years from both sentences for Rutherford’s expression of remorse.
On the first count, the woman was sentenced to 45 years and on the second count to 53 years.
The judge ordered that both sentences be served consecutively, with remission of some four years for time Rutherford would have so far spent awaiting trial on each count.
Many in the courtroom, which was almost packed to capacity, cringed after the sentence was delivered.
Rutherford was convicted by a jury on March 15th but her sentencing had been deferred to yesterday to facilitate the probation report. That report was laid over to the court by Probation and Social Services Officer Jo-Ann Samuels-Grant.
It was not read to the Court.
Rutherford had collapsed subsequent to the jury foreman announcing the verdicts.
It was the state’s case that the young woman deliberately administered rat poison to her children.
The two children died on March 27th, 2014, moments after Rutherford administered carbon tablets—a pesticide commonly used for killing rats—to them. Her claim was that she thought that she had given them cold medication. Rutherford was herself hospitalised for some time after drinking the tablets also.
Prosecutor Tiffini Lyken, who led the state’s case had asked the jury to consider the pungent odour that carbon tablets carry and the unlikeliness of those being confused with any sort of cold tablets.
She had asked the jury to rubbish Rutherford’s claims of ever purchasing cold tablets for the children as no evidence supported the assertion that they were even suffering from colds at the time.
According to a caution statement police said Rutherford gave, she claimed she purchased cold tablets from a man who also sold rat poison and “other stuff” on the road at the Plaisance Market.
Referencing the caution statement in which Rutherford told police about having problems and being frustrated while awaiting word on her application for a job as a traffic warden with the Guyana Police Force, the prosecutor stressed that it was because of this frustration that Rutherford killed the children.
In her address to the court at the close of the prosecution’s case against her, Rutherford, in unsworn testimony, had stated that she never gave her children carbon tablets, but rather administered to them what she believed to be “cold tablets.” “I did not buy rat poison for my children,” she declared.
The state’s case was represented by Lyken and Gibbs, in association with Prosecutor Shawnette Austin.
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