Thirty-two year old Gladstone Williamson, charged with killing 31-year-old plantain chip vendor Gertrude Edwards, was yesterday sentenced to a total of 30 years in jail by Justice Franklyn Holder, at the Berbice High Court.
Williamson initially faced a murder charge and had pleaded not guilty, but later changed his plea to guilty on the lesser count of manslaughter, which was accepted by the state.
He was also charged with two counts of attempted murder of the woman’s 13-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, Kerry Edwards, and her niece, 16-year-old Samantha Charles.
The man had butchered his reputed wife and maimed her daughter and her niece on Friday May 8th, 2009, at the woman’s home at Ithaca, West Bank Berbice.
The judge had ordered a probation report after Williamson changed his plea. The report was presented by probation officer Rubena Marshall.
The report highlighted Williamson’s early upbringing which was not stable and was plagued with financial difficulties. The accused had lived in Suriname and eventually returned to Guyana where he lived at various addresses. His parents separated and his mother entered several other relationships, at times exposing himself and his siblings to abuse.
He attended secondary school and lived with his father for some time before they had an altercation and he left. It stated that while at school, Williamson performed odd jobs to
survive. He eventually started up a relation with Edwards who bore him two children.
The report described the ups and down the couple had, which eventually ended in her brutal demise.
In a lengthy summation, Judge Holder stated that although he understood the mitigation plea of the accused, the act that he had committed was most barbaric.
“You were trying to compel her to return home, but you pleas fell on deaf ears. No one will run away from a home in which they are happy and contented. She left the home in fear of the same thing you visited upon her,” the judge continued.
“It is clear to see that you are a cruel and selfish man. This came out of the probation report. You never thought of taking your own life, but cut your reputed wife and children’s throats like a primitive butcher then ran away and hid from the police. By pleading guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter you still intend to avoid death for this heinous act,” the judge stated.
He told the accused that not only did he rob the children of a mother and aunt at a tender age, but has left them with the emotional scars for the rest of their lives. He also told Williamson that he had premeditated to commit the act, because the knife that he used was in his pocket.
The judge said that too many incidents of domestic violence are ending in death, and stressed that men who commit such acts and wanton abuse, then plead guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter, must not feel that they will get away lightly. The court he said must impose a penalty that will serve as a deterrent. The judge then sentenced him to 14 years on the manslaughter charge, while on each of the two counts of attempted murder he was sentenced to eight years.
The attempted murder charges will run concurrently. They will however run consecutively with the manslaughter charge, meaning that he will serve a total of 22 years.
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