…accomplice released on time served
Twenty three-year-old Veeran Dias Lall was yesterday jailed for 16 years after pleading guilty to manslaughter—admitting that on April 2, 2016, he killed Roger Manikram, 65, the father of his girlfriend — Nalini Manikram, who was 19 years old at the time.
Lall’s accomplice and friend Devon Brown, a taxi driver and father of two, pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact, and was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. However, Brown was released after the court took into consideration that he spent two years on remand pending trial.
Two years is the maximum penalty that could have been imposed on Brown for the crime.
Both Lall and Brown appeared before Justice Sandil Kissoon yesterday at the High Court in Georgetown. They were represented by Attorneys-at-Law Latchmie Rahamat and Dexter Todd respectively.
Prosecutors Lisa Cave and Mandel Moore appeared for the State.
The men’s court appearance marked the commencement of the April session of the Demerara Assizes, during which over 200 cases for murder, manslaughter and sexual offences are scheduled to be heard.
Justice Sandil Kissoon, Justice Jo-Ann Barlow and Justice James Bovell-Drakes have been selected to preside over this session.
Twenty-year-old Nalini Manikram and her now 15-year-old sister are awaiting trial for the murder of their father. They did not appear at yesterday’s court proceedings.
According to reports, the body of 65-year-old Roger Manikram was found on April 3, 2016 in a drain several blocks away from his Lot 237 Section B, Non Pareil, East Coast Demerara home.
There was a chop wound at the back of the man’s head. It is alleged that the sisters lured their father into the kitchen of the home where he was chopped with an axe. The sisters then reportedly sought the help of Lall with wrapping their father’s body in plastic, which was then allegedly transported by Brown—a friend of Lall—to the roadside where it was dumped. A post mortem examination performed on the pensioner revealed that he died as a result of brain haemorrhage due to blunt trauma to the head.
During a plea in mitigation, Rahamat said that they were several conditions that triggered her client to do the killing. She said that Lall opted to plead guilty to the lesser offence because he did not see the need to waste judicial time. Pointing out that her client was just 21-year-old at the time he committed the offence, Rahamat said Lall has always accepted that his actions resulted in the death of Roger Manikram.
Lall was described as a model prisoner by Rahamat who disclosed that her client was never involved in any crimes during his incarceration. The lawyer further submitted that Camp Street jail has been depicted as one of the most de-humanizing facilities in the region in a recent ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
Reflecting on the 2016 inferno at the Camp Street prison which claimed the lives of over a dozen inmates, the lawyer claimed that her client was nearly killed in the fire.
According to Rahamat, Lall is actively involved in Bible studies and spends most of his time reading.
An emotional Lall expressed that he is eternally sorry for his actions. He confessed that he thinks about what he did every day and regrets it. “I don’t know how many times to say sorry,” Lall said.
On the other hand, Todd stated that Brown has endured a rough life since the commissioning of the crime. He said his client’s action resulted in him losing ties with many of his family and friends.
According to Todd, on the day of the murder Brown responded to a phone call from a friend who was in need of help. The court heard through Todd that Brown migrated to St. Lucia when he was just two years of age and that his mother passed away while he was in jail.
The lawyer disclosed that sometime after, Brown came back to Guyana and lived at Crane, West Coast Demerara where he met Lall. Todd alleged that his client only became aware that he had committed a crime after he was arrested.
In calculating a sentence for Lall, Justice Kissoon started at a base of 30 years and deducted eight years for the early guilty plea. Another five years were deducted for the plea in mitigation by Lall’s lawyer and one year was deducted for Lall showing remorse for his actions. The court, was however, ordered to deduct the time Lall spent on remand awaiting trial.
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