…one year for each stab wound
A once promising graphic artist from a reputable family of pandits was yesterday sentenced to 17 years in jail for the 2005 murder of popular businessman, Mark Gill, in a crime the judge called “evil.”
“I am truly sorry,” Ramnauth “Vishal” Doobay, 30, told Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire shortly before he was sentenced after a plea bargaining deal worked out with the prosecution in which he was willing to accept between 15-20 years behind bars.
Doobay, from a renowned Hindu religious family on West Coast Demerara, pleaded guilty to a charge of manslaughter. The Judge, taking into consideration the more than five years Doobay spent in prison and the “horrific” nature of the crime said that she was giving him a year behind bars for every stab wound he inflicted on Gill on the night of July 7, 2005.
Gill was stabbed 17 times, mostly to his back. His bloodied body was discovered on the verandah of his Vreed-en-Hop, West Coast Demerara home.
His parents, Frank and Ishmatie Lall, wept throughout the sentencing proceedings. Doobay was given a chance to address the Gills and he accepted, telling him that in his heart he was truly sorry for what he had done.
Doobay said that he also wished that God would find a way to comfort them, and said he could understand what they were going through as he knows what it feels to lose someone.
The post mortem report showed that Mark Gill died of shock and hemorrhage due to multiple incises wounds.
The Gills declined the court’s offer to address Doobay.
Before his murder, Mark Gill, then aged 31, was the manager of the popular Big Gill boutique, which had four other outlets. Gill and Doobay had struck up a friendship two years prior to the murder.
However, in his confession statement, Doobay claimed that Gill had made sexual advances towards him and he rejected. The two of them then cut all communication.
Doobay, whose male lineage is of pandits including his great grandfather, grandfather and father, was at the time the owner of his own business, producing advertisements, posters and business cards.
Some time after the fallout, Doobay claimed that Gill later approached him to say that he had had a few drinks, and was only joking about wanting sexual favours from him. So the two of them “patched” up the friendship.
However, Doobay’s fiancée, Bibi Areefa Manzoor, claimed that Gill was making abusive telephone calls to her. As a result, Doobay said he went over that fateful night to “talk” to Gill about his calls to his fiancée.
Manzoor had told Doobay that Gill’s parents were going to be away on a business trip and that he would be alone.
Doobay took with him an estimated $3 million in cash and jewellery when he fled the scene.
Gill’s bloodied body was later found in his verandah, and there was a lighted candle left on his bed.
Prosecutor Nigel Hughes said that it was divine intervention that the house was not burnt down.
Hughes recounted that after killing Gill, Doobay and Manzoor fled “back track” to Suriname, where they confessed to a spiritualist and asked for his help in protecting them from Gill’s relatives who would come after them.
They had also sought the spiritualist help to leave Suriname.
However, one of the spiritualist’s assistants had an ancestor named Gill, and so he informed Doobay and Manzoor that they could not help those who would have harmed a possible relative.
The spiritualist, Henry Purpleheart, knew someone from Corentyne, Berbice and called up the person to find out about the Gills. The person provided the information and the spiritualist got in touch with the Gills.
The Guyana Police Force and their counterparts were alerted and Doobay and Manzoor were brought to Guyana.
Upon arriving at Springlands Police Station, Doobay confessed to the crime.
Doobay was described by his lawyer, former Justice Jainarayan Singh, as coming from a deeply religious and respected family. His great grandfather built the first Hindu temple at Goed Fortuin, West Bank Demerara, and both his grandfather and father are now pressing pundits at mandirs on the West Coast.
At age 15, Doobay looked set to follow the religious lineage of the male members of his family, but his love of graphic design caused him to change course.
After completing his schooling at Central High at the age of 17, he went on to work for a graphic design company and within three years was promoted. He was given the opportunity to further his education in graphic design and later managed and cared for equipment at the Cyril Potter College of Education.
Six months before the murder, Doobay had set up his own company on Camp Street in Georgetown.
Doobay is the father of two, a boy now aged 11 and a girl now aged nine.
Up to the time of the Preliminary Inquiry which committed Doobay to stand trial, his fiancée was a co-accused, but she was set free.
At his sentencing, Doobay said he accepted responsibility for what he had done and begged the court to be given a second chance to be a father to his children.
He said that his wrongdoing is on his mind plays every minute on his conscience and that is worse than spending time at the Camp Street prison.
The Judge told Doobay that what he did was grave and horrific and that she found his efforts to cover his tracts “heinous and strange.”
She urged him to reflect on the disruption he caused to his own life that of his own family and that of Mark Gill.
Justice George-Wiltshire urged Doobay to use his time in prison to find spiritual salvation whether by the Hindu path his relatives took, or whatever other means he found fitting.
The Judge acknowledged that her sentence does not bring back the life of Mark Gill nor could it adequately compensate the victim’s parents for their loss, but she expressed the view that having justice meted out to Doobay showed that “God does not sleep.”
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