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Child killer spared hangman’s noose
A convicted child murderer was spared the hangman’s noose on Wednesday, after his conviction for murder was substituted to the lesser charge of manslaughter by the Appeal Court. Anton Bruce was one of six cases decided yesterday at the Hall of Justice, Port-of-Spain. Bruce, 23, was convicted of the murder of his two-and-a-half-year-old stepdaughter Kareema Roberts, who was beaten to death as she was being disciplined.
His lawyer, Jagdeo Singh, asked the court to order a probation officer’s report before sentence was passed. The matter is scheduled to be determined on February 11, 2014. In the case of Gerard Wilson, who together with Lester Pitman had written to the Chief Justice complaining about the delay in his judgment, which was reserved in November 2009, his death sentence was substituted with a verdict of manslaughter.
Wilson, 48, was convicted of the murder of pensioner Esther Mae Vidale, 77, in May 2006. Vidale was raped and killed at her Siparia home in November 2001. The Appeal Court found that Wilson suffered a “grave miscarriage of justice” because of the absence of expert psychiatric evidence at his trial, which deprived him of a possible verdict of manslaughter. Chief Justice Ivor Archie noted that a psychiatric assessment of the prisoner by Prof Gerard Hutchinson revealed that Wilson was still a threat to society.
Wilson was ordered to serve 25 years and nine months in jail. The sentence was backdated to the date of his conviction, which means that he has already served 15 years of the term. A prison year is normally eight calendar months. The case against Ako Morris was also decided by the Appeal Court on Wednesday. Morris was convicted in June 2008 of the killing of Antonio Jacob, the son of martial arts expert Don Jacob.
Jacob was shot dead during a robbery on Christmas Eve, 2002, at Picadilly Street, Port-of-Spain, when he went to renew his insurance policy. The Appeal Court reduced Morris’ sentence of 20 years to 14 years and three months, and backdated it to September 22, 2008, the date he was originally sentenced.
In yet another case, the Appeal Court affirmed the conviction against David Donald on a charge of murdering taxi driver Ramesh Seelochan, but ordered his sentence to be determined before a High Court judge on the basis of the legal principle of the unlawful act of manslaughter, where the killing arose during the commission of a robbery. Seelochan was shot dead during a robbery in August 2002 at Cats Hill, Moruga, and Donald was convicted of murder in February 2007.
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