Death Row brothers walk free on appeal
Yesterday the three brothers who had been on Death Row for some five years walked out of the Appeal Court all free men after the judges ruled in their favour, upholding a no case submission. Three brothers, Marvin, Patrick and Allan Ramnauth, along with Tulsie Seelall were charged with the murder of Achama Madramootoo, back in 2003.
During the decision hearing yesterday the judges, Justice Ian Chang, Justice James Bovell-Drakes and Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards ruled in favour of the appellants who were represented by defense counsel Mursaline Bacchus. The Justices ruled that there was not sufficient evidence to prove that the men committed murder.
The courtroom which was packed with mostly relatives of the appellants was told that while there were caution statements which stated facts there was nothing showing that the men committed the act of murder.
The court was further told that the caution statements outlined activities in which the appellants participated but nothing supports the prosecution’s case that they committed murder. Hence the court upheld the no-case submission.
The three brothers had their first hearing in the appeal court some three months ago when the matter was first called.
Some of the grounds for appeal presented by the lawyer include:
The Appellate Court found that the trial Judge erred in not directing a verdict of not guilty upon the submission of no case to answer by Counsel for the Appellants there being no evidence that: the Appellants had committed the offence of murder by agreeing with ‘Johnny’ to commit a felony with violence upon the deceased.
Bacchus in his presentation further stated to the court that there was a non-direction amounting to a serious misdirection when, The Learned Trial Judge failed to direct the jury on the ingredients of the felony of abduction, in that the learned Trial Judge failed to direct the jury that for abduction, one or more of certain intents must have been held by each of the Appellants.
It was also put to the court that the Learned Trial Judge misdirected to the jury on the law relating to joint enterprise thus depriving the Appellant of the chance of an acquittal.
Attorney-at-law Jo-ann Barlow, who was representing the state, said that at the close of the prosecution’s case the evidence was substantially contained in the caution statements of the three appellants.
“…And in those statements while I acknowledge, each spoke for himself, the common thread was that pursuant to instructions given to them by a man who was armed, they went to a man’s home in the dead of the night and removed by force that other man’s wife, took her to the man who was armed and proceeded away from her home with her”.
Ms. Barlow further pointed out to the court that in those circumstances the prosecution presented to the learned trial judge and jury a scenario which said these persons acting together with this person who was armed, must have intended, must have foreseen and must have contemplated that the man with the gun could have caused serious bodily harm to the victim or could have killed her with intention to do so.
“In those circumstances, Your Honor, it is respectively submitted that the learned trial judge could not withdraw that case from the jury”.
Addressing the Court on the issue of the action of the appellants, Barlow said “To deal more specifically with the actions of the four persons who were there, my learned friend did say that the activity of taking the woman from the house came to an end when she was handed to ‘Johnny’.
“I contend that once started, that activity cannot stop unless there is some recognisable legal principle which brings it to an end and the only principle is the principle of withdrawal, which my learned friend (Mursalene Bacchus) said he does not rely on since it does not arise on the evidence”.
Barlow further informed the court that it would not be correct to separate this (incident) into an abduction, incidents of rape and then of murder.
“When a party joins an enterprise, that party joins that enterprise assuming that he knows all the circumstances existing at that time he joins that enterprise, taking the risk for all that follows that falls within his contemplation.”
Initial reports were that the brothers along with Seelall abducted the woman, dragged her into the backdam and drowned her. She was later found dead in a trench close to the Kildonan cemetery. A caution statement by Allan Ramnauth said that they were drinking when a man by the name of ‘Johnny’ pointed a gun at them and told them to go to the woman’s home and call her out. He said she did not respond and the man then told them to break down the wall and they did so with the help of the man.
By then, Allan said, the woman had opened the door and they dragged her downstairs and headed towards the backdam. While taking her to the backdam he said the man stopped three times and “made love” to the woman and there was a confrontation between the two.
He said after the last stop the man ordered the woman to walk into the trench and pushed her head down into the water. Allan said he threatened them and told them not to say anything.