When Deon Peters woke up yesterday he thought he was still dreaming.
Peters woke up in his own bed yesterday after spending more than ten months behind bars.
A 34-year-old convicted murderer who escaped the hangman’s noose through a landmark Privy Council judgment in his favour was sentenced to 30 years yesterday. However, Nimrod Miguel is expected to be released in 19 and a half years, as the time he has spent in prison after being charged with murdering a Rio Claro driver in 2003 was deducted from his sentence.
In passing the sentence, yesterday, High Court Judge Althea Alexis-Windsor, sitting in the Port-of-Spain Sixth Court at the Hall of Justice, said she considered a number of aggravating factors including the prevalence of murders for financial gain and “the fact that this was a senseless murder of an honest citizen of T&T.”
The judge, referring to a report from a probation officer and one dealing with his social background, said, “They both note that Miguel’s childhood was a difficult one including economic constraints which caused him to leave school and begin working at the age of 12.”
She said she had also considered whether Miguel expressed remorse for the incident, but noted that he was only remorseful for keeping bad company—the three friends who took part in the crime—but did not accept responsibility for his part in the death of the victim, Ramesh Lalchan. In 2008, Miguel was found guilty of murdering Lalchan on December 30, 2003. He gave a statement to police saying he and a group of friends went to rob Lalchan of his vehicle, but he played no part in killing him.
He said he tied Lalchan’s hands and feet but it was another man who shot Lalchan in the head several times. The body was later found near Fairfield, Princes Town. Miguel initially appealed his conviction and sentence, but the Appeal Court dismissed his claim. While the Privy Council agreed that his trial and conviction were sound, they felt the mandatory death sentence he received was cruel and unusual punishment and ruled it was unconstitutional.
Through their judgment, the British Law Lords gave judges the discretion to bypass the mandatory death penalty in cases where someone murders another in the commission of a lesser criminal offence such as a robbery, as in Miguel’s case. Miguel was represented by Daniel Khan while prosecutor Brent Winter represented the State.
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