Accused pleads guilty, gets 8 years
Bel Air Park robbery…
….refuses to testify on prosecution’s behalf
Twenty-year-old Rabindranauth Seemangal was yesterday sentenced to an eight-year jail term after pleading guilty to charges stemming from the 2011 armed robbery committed at the Bel Air Park home of prominent businessman Malcolm Panday.
The accused and five others are jointly facing the robbery under arms matter that is being heard before Acting Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court.
The charge against Seemangal, of 100 Sheriff Street, Georgetown, was that on July 12, 2011, he committed robbery under arms against Panday’s wife, Annie Ramsood. He received four years for the offence. Seemangal received another four years plus a $100,000 fine for having a firearm in his possession while he had no licence for the gun.
Before the sentence was handed down, the accused asked the court to be lenient and to consider that he had been imprisoned for 14 months. The court took several factors into consideration, including the ages of the young children who Seemangal had ordered his alleged accomplices to kill if Panday’s wife had not complied with orders.
Following a brief deliberation, the court determined that the mitigating factors in the matter were that the accused pleaded guilty and saved the court’s time. For the aggravating factors, the court took into consideration the prevalence of the offence, the fact that a gun was used, the family was duct-taped, the amount of money stolen, and that Seemangal ordered that the children be shot if the parent did not comply.
The sentence, however, came after special prosecutor Senior Counsel Bernard De Santos inquired whether the accused would offer evidence on behalf of the prosecution. Seemangal gave a negative response.
The other accused sat with blank faces during the proceeding, only whispering to each other during sporadic pauses in the matter. Panday’s mother-in-law, Chandrada Rampersaud; Hardat Kumar, his wife’s cousin, Jermaine Mitchell, Aubrey Simon and Rayon Jones are those still facing the court in the robbery matter.
Several persons, including Panday’s wife, have so far testified in the matter. De Santos told the court that the officer who took the confession statement from Seemangal was available to testify. He opined that the policeman’s testimony was obviously too much for the accused, causing him to change his plea for the third time.
De Santos cautioned the others on trial not to wait until the case is over to proclaim their guilt. He advised that it would be beneficial to them if they saw it fit to take the same course as Seemangal.
This is however the third time that Seemangal is changing his plea since the initial stage of his court appearance. In early June, he pleaded not guilty to the offences against him when he realized that the prosecution was not going to bargain with him for a lesser penalty.
He had been in the lock ups ever since his arrest, while his alleged co-conspirators were out on bail. Seemangal was unable to post the $600,000 that was required.
The case against the other five accused will continue today. More police witnesses are expected to testify.