Nine years for killer
Nikita Braxton-Benjamin email@example.com
Balkissoon Roodal, who in 2003 had his death sentence reversed by the Privy Council, was yesterday sentenced to almost nine years in prison for the 1995 murder of Philbert Charles.
Roodal, who had been waiting for the last nine years and eleven months to have his sentence reviewed, did not accept the decision handed down by Justice Mark Mohammed in the San Fernando First Criminal Court.
Justice Mohammed, who started with a sentence of 27 years, said that he took into consideration that Roodal had spent almost ten years awaiting sentencing review and four years awaiting trial, from his date of arrest in 1995 to his conviction in 1999.
The four years and four months Roodal had spent on death row was also taken into consideration.
In 2003 the Privy Council declared in the local case of Balkisssoon Roodal versus The State that the mandatory sentence of death for murder was unconstitutional. The following year, the Privy Council overruled its own decision, and held that although the mandatory sentence of death was cruel and unusual punishment, it was not unconstitutional.
Justice Mohammed said that Roodal had spent a total of 18 years and three months behind bars.
Deducted from the 27 years, Mohammed said Roodal had a total of eight years and nine months left to serve.
Roodal's previous convictions of shooting with intent and possession of a gun and ammunition to endanger life, was also considered by the judge in arriving at the sentence.
The State, led by attorney Mauriceia Joseph had set a benchmark of between 25 to 30 years while the defence had said that Roodal should spend 22 and a half years behind bars.
Roodal was convicted of killing Charles between August 19 and 20 1995. Charles was shot after he and others attempted to steal marijuana, that according to the State, was cultivated by Roodal in the Charuma Forest.
Roodal, 63, maintained his innocence even after sentence was passed on him on Monday. Mohammed told him that he had rights and could attempt to have the case re-opened.
Mohammed said that although the ruling was reversed, it was Roodal's persistence which led to the Privy Council ruling that the automatic death penalty was unconstitutional and that it was up to a judge to decide on sentencing.
Roodal was yesterday represented by attorney Jagdeo Singh. In the past, senior counsel Sophia Chote and attorney Chateram Sinanan have also represented him.
(from the Multimedia Desk)