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Man gets five years for chopping off ex-wife's finger

By Nikita Braxton-Benjamin

BASIL DE Leon was yesterday sentenced to five years in prison for

chopping his ex-wife. It will be his second stint in prison.

De Leon, was found guilty of manslaughter 30 years ago and served a seven-year term of imprisonment with hard labour.

Last Friday, he was found guilty of wounding Meena Rampersad with

intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Rampersad lost a finger after she was attacked at her home on November 19, 2007.

Presiding in the San Fernando Supreme Court yesterday, Justice Malcolm Holdip told the father of eight that he "stepped out of bounds when he took the law into his own hands".

Defence attorney Rekha Ramjit said her client was remorseful and asked for a non-custodial sentence for him.

Ramjit said the situation had escalated from a domestic situation as

De Leon, 60, of Tabaquite, had claimed that Rampersad had taken $68,000 worth of items from the home they shared.

Holdip drew reference to a conference held last week that dealt with violence against women.

At the conference, Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar asked judicial officers to be alert when claims of domestic violence are made because it could never be known what might trigger the domestic situation and lead to it escalating into serious

violence.

In this case, Holdip said, violence erupted because De Leon believed Rampersad had taken the items and moved in with another man.

Holdip said De Leon acted in a state of temper but it was a spur-of-the moment act.

De Leon said he was on his way to dig cassava that morning when a maxi driver told him of Rampersad's location.

De Leon asked the driver to drop him at her home.

Rampersad had ended the relationship in August 2006, after a ten-year and four -month union with De Leon.

The two have two sons together.

State attorney Angelica Teelucksingh said the maximum sentence for wounding with intent is 15 years' hard labour.

She said there were several aggravating factors in this case, including that De Leon had not shown remorse, having gone in the witness stand and claimed Rampersad was cut as he was trying to defend himself.

He testified that Rampersad had come toward him with a knife.

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