THE Court of Appeal has increased the sentence of a 22-year-old man who, at the age of 16, shot his neighbour to death six years ago.
Found guilty on April 5 last year of murdering Yusuff Joseph, Walter Borneo was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment with hard labour by Justice Carla Brown-Antoine in the Port of Spain High Court.
Borneo appealed the conviction and sentence. In dismissing the appeal on Tuesday, Justices Paula Mae Weekes, Alice Soo Hon and Rajendra Narine ruled that a more appropriate sentence would be 17 and a half years.
Having deducted the four years and six months Borneo spent in custody since his arrest on October 10, 2006, he was ordered to serve 13 years' imprisonment with hard labour from the date of his conviction.
Weekes, Soo Hon and Narine said Brown-Antoine, in imposing the 15-year sentence on Borneo, expressly stated she took into account the fact that Borneo had spent more than four years in custody awaiting trial, but did not precisely set out how the time was factored into the sentence.
Borneo and two other men, on October 9, 2006, walked into the Roxborough Street, Diego Martin, home of Joseph and his wife and held them up at gunpoint.
One of the man asked Joseph for "weed", but Joseph said he did not know anything about that. Joseph was then taken upstairs to his neighbour's apartment, while his wife was kept downstairs. The woman testified that she heard a gunshot, following which the gunman released her and ran.
While running toward the upstairs apartment, Joseph's wife saw two men running away. She recognised one of them to be Borneo, whom she had seen and spoken to just moments before.
Joseph sustained a gunshot wound to the leg.
His sister, who lived a short distance away, testified that when she arrived at the scene with her husband, she heard a police officer asking Joseph if he knew who shot him, to which Joseph replied: "Yeah the little fella from in the yard there... Walter, Walter."
The court noted that police officers who visited the scene that night did not support the evidence of Joseph's sister and her husband.
Joseph was taken to Port of Spain General Hospital, where he was placed in the intensive care unit but died the following day.
Upon his arrest, Borneo was told of the report, but responded that he was at home. He did not testify and did not call any witnesses at the trial.
Included in the six grounds of appeal, argued on his behalf by attorneys Jagdeo Singh and Hasine Shaikh, is that Brown-Antoine erred in law in admitting Joseph's statement into evidence and failed to properly direct the jury on the statement.
Borneo's attorneys also contended that Brown-Antoine erred in law in omitting to direct the jury on the issue of joint enterprise, which resulted in Borneo being deprived of the possibility of a manslaughter verdict.
The judges disagreed.
Appearing on behalf of the State was Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal.