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Demerara Assizes opens with high drama in court

first_img… as cousins jailed for killing taxi driverBy Shemuel FanfairIt was high drama at the opening of the June session at the Demerara Criminal Assizes, as two accused admitted their involvement in the June 2014 killing of taxi driver Danraj Latchman at Parika Backdam, East Bank Essequibo (EBE).Appearing separately before Justice Navindra Singh at the High Court on Tuesday, 20-year-old Ashraf Ally and Abdool Razack, 21, both plead guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter. After consideration of the mitigating factors, the Judge sentenced them both to 15 years imprisonment, pending deductions for time served.  Defence Counsel for the two men, Kemo Griffith, had earlier stressed that they were teens at the time, noting that they enrolled in several prison programmes to better themselves. However, State Prosecutor Tuanna Hardy maintained that the killing was a senseless act. Hardy added that Latchman’s life was snatched from him.The court heard that Ally now plays steel pan and has even performed at the British High Commissioner’s residence. Ally, who turned up to his hearing dressed in a suit and tie also took up barbering behind bars. Addressing the court, the accused went on a 15-minitue tirade detailing events leading up to the crime, saying that he and others met up with girls and were consuming alcohol before going to Parika.After brief advisement from his Attorney, the accused then broke down in streams of tears, with much of his words being inaudible.“I already confess to God, I am very sorry. I learn a lot since I’m in prison; every time I think about my future, I get frustrated,” he stressed.When Abdool Razack appeared, the court similarly heard that he took up classes while being incarcerated. Defence Counsel Griffith stated that his client enrolled in building technology, Information Technology and joinery classes and can now prepare a “mean curry” after being elected as ‘head cook’ at the Timehri prison. Razack intends to expand his family’s carpentry business once he is released. Razack apologised to Latchman’s family and asked the court for mercy, saying that he put his own family to shame and disgrace.Moments after the Judge handed down Ally’s fate and adjourned for Razack’s sentencing, Latchman’s mother, Tarmati Daby almost fainted in the court, knocking over one of the benches. Outside the courtroom, she exclaimed that justice was not served.“Me need justice, this nah justice, me want justice, this unfair,” expressed the woman who had to be assisted by family members. Meanwhile, sister of deceased, Indra Latchman, said they intend to hire an attorney to appeal the court’s decision.On the flipside, Abdool Razack felt that his allocated time should have been less and he declared his innocence while he was being led away to the prisoner’s holding cell.The taxi driver whose body was found in cane fields at Parika Backdam was hired by the two young men to transport them from Lusignan, East Coast Demerara; to Parika, East Bank Essequibo. The two were accused of killing Latchman between June 10 and 14, 2014.  Police believe the two men intended to only steal the teenaged Latchman’s car but after the young man was strangled they fled the scene, and later confessed to the crime after being detained.   Justice Singh, who took the salute at Tuesday morning’s opening, will hear all cases before the return of Justice Jo-Ann Barlow, later in the session.last_img read more