BUSINESSMAN Christopher Aleong was gunned down outside his home on December 2, 2003 while resisting an attempt by men to kidnap him for ransom.
For six months following the killing, police investigators had no leads on any suspect or any clear motive until they arrested Rudy Nelson on a totally unrelated matter on June 7, 2004.
Nelson, a plumber of Boissiere Lane, Belmont, confessed to the police that he was involved in Aleong's killing. He was charged with murder.
Yesterday, Nelson, 45, pleaded guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter and was sentenced by Port of Spain High Court Judge, Justice Malcolm Holdip, to serve 20 years in prison with hard labour. However, he will be released from prison in four years and five months.
In passing sentence, Holdip, in keeping with a recent Court of Appeal ruling, discounted the eight years and seven months Nelson spent in custody awaiting trial.
Nelson also received a one-third discount from his sentence as a result of his guilty plea which was accepted by the State.
Aleong's brother, former BWIA CEO Conrad Aleong, expressed shock on being told of the outcome by the Express.
"I would prefer not to say anything now," said Conrad Aleong.
"I am just speechless. I have a lot in my head to say but I think it is best that I don't say anything at the moment. I prefer to keep it to myself. I am hurting right now just recalling this thing."
State attorney Sabrina Dougdeen told the court that Nelson had confessed to the police that he was the driver of a car which blocked Chris Aleong's car as he was leaving his Hibiscus Drive, Petit Valley home. Nelson's accomplices were armed with guns.
Aleong, 58, who was managing director of Albrosco Ltd, opened fire and Nelson's accomplices fired several shots at Aleong. He was hit seven times.
He was alive when his attackers left and was taken by his family to St Clair Medical Centre, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Another suspect, Michael Rodriguez, 42, was found hanging in a cell at Central Police Station on June 12, 2004.
A post-mortem revealed he died of asphyxiation due to hanging and his death was classified as a suicide.
Nelson's attorney Selwyn Mohammed told Holdip that his client was very remorseful and had demonstrated this by cooperating with the police and by pleading guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter at the earliest opportunity.
"He will have to continue living with this for the rest of his life," Mohammed said.
"If he did not feel such a deep sense of guilt and remorse he would have remained silent just as he did for six months and this matter might have been swept under the carpet and he might not be here today."
Mohammed said Nelson's wife has since divorced him and he will have to make attempts to restore the bond with his two children upon his release from prison.
Holdip said, in considering what sentence to pass, he took into account that Nelson was aware of the presence of firearms, the prevalence at the time of kidnapping for ransom and Nelson's age at the time of the offence.
"You were 35 years old and should have known better," Holdip said.
Holdip noted that Nelson was also involved in a fraud matter for which he was fined $2,000 on May 8, 2002.
"He should have learnt a lesson but seemed not to want to work hard and wanted quick cash."