A 64-year-old woman from Chaguanas, convicted of ordering a “hit” on her estranged husband that also resulted in his new love interest being murdered, has been released after serving a little over 28 years in prison.
High Court Judge Gail Gonzales ordered the release of Parbatee Dass as she re-sentenced her for the crime on Wednesday.
In February 1999, Dass, Amir Mohammed, Farayad Edoo, and Rawle Ghanny were convicted of murdering Dass’ husband, Rajpaul Dass.
Edoo and Ghanny were also found guilty of murdering Rajpaul’s then-common-law wife, Susan Ramnath.
The evidence presented during their trial stated that Dass and her husband got married in 1983. Their relationship deteriorated and they were eventually separated by 1994 with several pending matters before the court for child maintenance and domestic violence.
Rajpaul and Ramnath lived in the couple’s former matrimonial home, while Dass and the children she had with Rajpaul lived obliquely opposite.
In early 1994, Dass contacted Carl Fairbain, a painting contractor whom she would occasionally assist in soliciting customers for lawyers.
She told Fairbain that she was experiencing domestic issues and requested assistance in finding someone to give Rajpaul “a severe cut arse or break some bones” or to “possibly get rid of him”.
Fairbain then introduced Dass to Mohammed, Edoo and Ghanny.
The group held several clandestine meetings before Rajpaul and Ramnath were eventually killed at the home they shared on March 29, 1994.
Rajpaul was chopped 15 times, while Ramnath was found to have nine chop wounds.
Fairbain served as a state witness against Dass and her co-accused
In 2000, the Court of Appeal rejected the group’s appeal against their convictions.
While the appeal panel agreed that there were flaws in their trials, it noted that such was not crucial as the evidence against them was “of a most incriminating nature”.
A final appeal was subsequently dismissed by the United Kingdom-based Privy Council.
The mandatory death penalty they received upon conviction was eventually commuted to life imprisonment based on the landmark Privy Council ruling in the Jamaican case of Pratt and Morgan, which permits executions only within five years of conviction.
Earlier this year, Dass successfully applied for her life sentence to be quashed based on a recent legal precedent in which the Privy Council ruled that murder convicts who cannot be executed should receive definitive terms of imprisonment as opposed to blanket life sentences.
Dass’ former co-accused are eventually expected to similarly benefit from re-sentencing, as will hundreds of other murder accused whose sentences have essentially been commuted based on the fact that the last time the death penalty was carried out in this country was in 1999.
In deciding on the appropriate sentence for Dass, Justice Gonzales began with a starting point of 30 years.
While Justice Gonzales noted that Dass showed no remorse and never accepted responsibility for her actions, she still gave a two-year discount based on the fact that she (Dass) participated in numerous rehabilitation programmes during her almost three-decade stint in prison and only had one prison infraction for using indecent language.
“I can say that the programmes she participated in have changed her thinking over the years,” Justice Gonzales said.
She ordered Dass’ immediate release as she noted that she had already served more than her sentence.
Dass was represented by Peter Carter and Jonell Chang. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) was represented by Rhea Libert, Josiah Soo Hon, and Ananda Gobin.