A man from San Fernando has been sentenced to 27 years in prison for his role in murdering a taxi driver during a botched carjacking in 2006.
Avinash Pooran was allowed to plead guilty to felony murder in March but was only sentenced by High Court Judge Norton Jack yesterday.
Under the felony murder rule, the mandatory death penalty for murder can be waived in circumstances where death results during the commission of a lesser criminal offence such as robbery.
In deciding on the appropriate sentence for Pooran, Justice Jack noted that he was precluded from applying the death penalty under the Children’s Act, as Pooran was 17 years when he committed the crime.
Justice Jack accepted submissions from Pooran’s legal team that he be sentenced to a fixed prison term instead of the at the court’s pleasure, with a minimum term and periodic sentence reviews, as is done with juvenile offenders accused of murder.
He began with a starting point of 30 years in prison, as he noted that the crime was unprovoked and premeditated.
“A life was snuffed out because of car parts,” he said, as he noted that there was nothing to suggest that he could not grasp that he was participating in a vicious and horrific act based on his age.
Justice Jack decided to reduce the starting point by three years, as he pointed out that Pooran had a clean criminal record before being charged, showed remorse, cooperated with police and had no disciplinary infractions whilst on remand.
He rejected submissions from prosecutors that Pooran should only receive a 20 per cent discount on his sentence for his guilty plea, as opposed to the one-third usually awarded because Pooran went on trial and was convicted before winning an appeal over his conviction and earning a retrial.
Justice Jack ruled that Pooran could not be penalised for previously taking the case to trial and testing the prosecution’s evidence.
As part of the sentencing, Justice Jack also deducted the 15 years Pooran spent on remand before the determination of the case, meaning that he would serve two years and eight months in prison before being released.
Pooran was jointly charged with Winston “Monty” Alleyne for murdering Adika Nicholas, of Duncan Village, San Fernando, on December 6, 2006.
Alleyne also pleaded guilty to felony murder and was previously sentenced to 28 years in prison by Justice Jack.
According to the evidence in the case, Nicholas was plying his car for hire at Library Corner in San Fernando when Alleyne, Pooran and another man entered and asked to be taken to Rousillac.
The following day, his body was discovered in a drain at Rousillac Extension Road. A post mortem revealed that he had been stabbed 54 times and his throat was slit.
When Alleyne was arrested several weeks later, he confessed to his involvement in Nicholas’ murder.
He claimed that he and two friends, one from which he was renting an apartment, made a plan to steal a vehicle and sell its parts in order to help with their financial difficulties.
Alleyne agreed that his payment for his involvement would have been not having to pay rent for that month.
He claimed that they boarded Nicholas’ taxi and while they were on their way to Rousillac, he asked Nicholas to stop the vehicle for him to urinate on the side of the road. He claimed that while he was out of the vehicle, his friends attacked Nicholas and attempted to restrain him.
He admitted that he returned to the vehicle and held Nicholas’ feet as his two friends stabbed him several times. They then threw Nicholas out of the car and into the drain.
The men later got rid of their blood-stained clothing and took the car to an abandoned sugar cane field, where they removed the bonnet, trunk, lights and other parts before abandoning it.
Pooran was represented by Peter Carter and Chimere Gibson-Wadi, while Norma Peters represented the State. (DA)