Apr 10, 2018 News
Before a packed courtroom of spectators at Court One of the High Court in Georgetown, Hofosawa Rut
herford was yesterday sentenced to a total of 98 years imprisonment by Justice Navindra Singh, for killing her two children—16 month-old Jabarie Cadogan Jr. and four year-old Hodaceia Cadogan on March 27, 2014.
Rutherford, 25, formerly of Supply, Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara, was on March 16, last, convicted on two counts of manslaughter by a 12-member mixed jury.
At the conclusion of the trial, the jurors found Rutherford guilty on
both counts of manslaughter over killing her children by giving them aluminum phosphide, a highly toxic substance, commonly referred to as ‘carbon tablets’, to ingest. However, sentencing for the woman convicted for killing her children was adjourned to yesterday after her Attorney Adrian Thompson requested a probation report on her behalf.
Justice Singh obliged and the probation report was handed over to the court. It was not read aloud.
In her defence, during an unsworn statement, Rutherford had told the court that she loved her children very much. In fact, Rutherford, who wept uncontrollably, and said she is still traumatized by the death of her children, both of whom she gave tablets that she had bought from a pharmacy, to treat their cold.
During her address to the court yesterday, the convict begged for leniency and mercy. She told the court that there is nobody in the world who loves her children more than her and that she was sorry for her shortcoming. Rutherford said that even “God in heaven” is merciful, while begging for a second chance.
In sentencing her, Justice Singh started at a base of 30 years on each count of the manslaughter charge.
In relation to the first, he added 10 years since the deceased was a child. Five years was added given the fact that Rutherford had killed her “own child”; five years for the use of a poisonous substance and another 10 years was given for premeditation. This brought the total years of imprisonment to 60. However, from that total, Justice Singh deducted a total of 15 years—eight years for a favourable probation report and seven years for her showing remorse for what she had done.
This means that Rutherford was sentenced to 45 years jail on the first count of manslaughter.
As it relates to the second count, Rutherford was sentenced to serve 53 years behind bars after Justice Singh deducted seven years for her showing remorse. In all, Rutherford was jailed for 45 years on the first count and 53 years on the second count— which Justice Singh ordered must be served consecutively.
This brings her total sentence to 98 years.
Justice Singh, however, ordered the prison service to deduct the time Rutherford spent on remand awaiting trial. Appearing for the state were prosecutors, Tiffini Lyken, Abigail Gibbs and Shawnette Austin.
Prosecutor Gibbs had asked for the maximum penalty to be imposed on Rutherford. Gibbs said that Rutherford knew exactly what she was doing when she fed the poisonous substance to the children.
The prosecutor added that Rutherford experiencing a hard life is no excuse for her to kill the minors.
In fact, the prosecutor pointed out that Rutherford, in her capacity, was supposed to comfort, love and protect her children, but instead, she failed.
At the time of sentencing, Justice Singh questioned as to why Rutherford was indicted for manslaughter and not murder. According to the trial judge, from the evidence it was clear that Rutherford intended to kill her children.
In the end, Rutherford, who appeared shocked, turned around and allowed prison officers to handcuff and escort her back to jail.
Government Pathologist, Dr. Nehaul Singh had testified that the pesticide given to the children is used to kill rats. Dr. Singh revealed that during the autopsy, a strong stench emanated from their stomachs. He said that the poisonous substance led to the children’s major organs being congested with blood.
Police Detective Lawrence Thomas said that Rutherford, in a caution statement, had told him she travelled to Georgetown on the day in question and bought three grayish tablets for cold from a man who was selling rat poison and other stuff at the Plaisance bus park.
Rutherford further told the detective that she stopped at her aunt’s residence and picked up her children before going home, where she gave half of a tablet to each of her children before ingesting the remaining two.
To convince the jury that it was Rutherford who gave her children the deadly substance, the prosecution called Monica Sealey, the sister of Rutherford to testify. Sealey, who resided at the same home with Rutherford, had testified that she overheard her sister telling the children to “Come and drink tablet.”
Sealey testified that she also overheard her sister telling her niece, Hodaceia “Why is it you can’t drink something when I give you, and your brother (Jabarie) who smaller than you done drink it already?”
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