By Feona Morrison
Thirty-three year-old Errol Williams was yesterday sentenced to serve 23 years in jail for chopping fireman Patrick Daly to death in 2009. The custodial sentence was handed down by Justice James Bovell-Drakes at the High Court in Georgetown after the reading of a probation report.
Williams, also known as ‘Short Man’, was initially charged with murder. He however opted to plead guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter a fortnight ago.
Attorney-at-Law Maxwell McKay represented Williams. Mandel Moore and Orinthia Schmidt presented the state’s case.
The court heard that about 05:00hrs on September 15, 2009, Daly was in a toilet located in his yard at Lot 99 Land of Canaan, East Bank Demerara, where he was attacked by Williams and two other men.
The three assailants, who all lived in the same yard, were armed with cutlasses and other weapons. They wrenched open the door to the toilet and Daly ran out, but was pursued by the trio. Williams dealt Daly several chops about the body with a cutlass before making good his escape. He was eventually arrested six years later, in June 2015.
A post mortem examination revealed that Daly died from haemorrhage and shock due to multiple chop wounds.
Probation Officer Arianna Gordon told the court that Williams has accepted his wrongdoing and indicated that he is willing to provide support to the family of the deceased when he is released from prison. Gordon said that information garnered from the Georgetown and New Amsterdam prisons indicates that Williams was always been cooperative and would carry out instructions given to him.
According to the probation officer, Williams’ future was shattered during his teenage years after the separation of his parents, who were legally married. Their separation, she added, forced him into adulthood—working on fishing vessels in Cayenne, French Guiana. Gordon said that he later migrated to Cayenne, where he became involved in a relationship which produced a child.
Attorney McKay asked the judge to be lenient with sentencing, given the fact that his client pleaded guilty to the offence and did not waste the court’s time. The lawyer said that the findings of the probation report showed that his client was not a violent person and had no antecedents. McKay added that his client was aware of the pain and suffering he had caused Daly’s family.
During his plea of mitigation, Williams said, “I’m very sorry for what happened. I’m begging you (the judge) for mercy.” He begged for the minimal penalty so as to allow him to be reintegrated back into society since he has turned his life around and hopes to see his three-year-old daughter.
However, in arriving at his sentence, Justice Bovell-Drakes pointed out that Daly, who was a fireman of reputable character, did nothing to Williams to endure such demise.
According to the judge, it was Daly and Williams’ friend called “Buck” who had a problem.
But Williams intervened, fatally chopping Daly. It was noted by the probation officer that during Williams’ time on remand, “Buck” never visited him.
The judge said that Daly had locked himself in the toilet but Williams went and broke down the door. When Daly ran out of the toilet, he was pursued by Williams who chopped him with a cutlass. According to the judge, Government Pathologist Dr. Nehaul Singh testified that Daly sustained six incised wounds—including chops to his head.
Further, the judge said that there was no evidence to support that Daly was armed.
Justice Bovell-Drakes made it clear that the court would not condone the action of Williams and would impose a sentence that would deter other persons from doing what he did.
“The court will not allow you to leave easily,” the judge told Williams in a stern tone.
At the outset, the judge started the base sentence at 60 years—but deducted 30 years, since Daly was killed at 30 years of age, and another seven years for the early guilty plea.
Justice Bovell-Drakes advised Williams to purse academic qualifications and to adopt a life skill during his time of incarceration. The judge told the convicted killer, “You will take care of yourself. Change your mindset and be an example to persons you will meet in prison and others subsequent to your release.”
In 2013, another man, Kurleigh Goodluck, was acquitted for Daly’s murder, after the jury returned with a unanimous not guilty verdict.
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