CoA reserves decision on conviction of “Tailor Man” for farmer’s murder

The Guyana Court of Appeal (CoA) has reserved its decision on the case of Dhupaul Singh who is seeking to overturn his conviction for the September 2, 2014 murder of Balkissoon, called, “Balky”.

Murdered: Balkissoon

On Tuesday, the court entertained arguments from Singh’s lawyer, Mark Conway and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Shalimar Ali-Hack.
Following a trial in 2016, Singh, also called “Tailor Man”, was found guilty of the offence by a jury and was sentenced to life imprisonment by Justice Jo Ann Barlow. He becomes eligible for parole after serving a minimum of 25 years behind bars.
The indictment against Singh was that he murdered Balkissoon on September 2, 2014 at Helena Number Two, Mahaica, East Coast Demerara.
Media reports are that on the day in question, Singh and Balkissoon, a farmer, were involved in a heated argument over remarks hurled by Singh at the now dead man. The row escalated into a scuffle during which Singh chopped Balkissoon about his body with a cutlass.

Murder convict: Dhupaul Singh

Singh’s lawyer is contending that Justice Barlow erred in law in giving the summation of provocation. The lawyer is also complaining that the sentence imposed on his client is severe. In court documents seen by Guyana Times, Singh testified that Balkissoon came on the street and started to embarrass and molest him, while Singh was in his home. The murder convict recalled that Balkissoon called him a lunatic and told him that he “does waste time in the back dam”.
“As I was walking going, I see Balkissoon coming with a bicycle riding. When he reached opposite where I was, he stopped. So, I asked him why you calling my name, insulting me at my home. He take out his cutlass and put down his bicycle. He came towards me and pelt a chop at me, I jump off and I was far away and the cutlass did not ketch me. He prepare and rush to me for the second time. I raised the cutlass and I pelt a chop for self-defence of myself,” Singh had testified.
In light of this evidence, Conway argued that the Judge erred in law by not marshalling the facts or evidence that may have borne a finding of manslaughter by reason of provocation by the jury. Further, he added that the jury was not alerted by Justice Barlow of the facts or evidence that they may consider in deciding if provocation was a live issue.
“The trial Judge’s summation failed to reflect an adequate summary and analysis of the facts or evidence that should have been presented to the jury for their deliberation as to whether the appellant was provoked by the deceased, and this failure is a material omission which may have deprived the appellant of a verdict of guilty of manslaughter by reason of provocation,” Conway opined.
The lawyer, therefore, submitted that the summing-up on provocation by the trial Judge did not reflect an adequate statement of the law as regards provocation, and this may have deprived the appellant of a verdict of guilty of manslaughter by reason of provocation.
Relying on the case of Kubert George v The State, which was decided by the Guyana Court of Appeal, Conway highlighted that the court set aside the conviction for murder and substituted a verdict of guilty of manslaughter and instituted a sentence of 20 years.
In addition, he argued that the sentence imposed by Justice Barlow did not reflect the principles outlined in the case of R v da Costa Hall in which it is stated that full credit should be given for any time spent on remand.
Opining that the appeal against the severity of the sentence for the offence of murder has merit, Conway pointed out that in imposing the sentence the trial Judge failed to apply case law principles that promote fairness in sentencing.
The Defence Attorney stated, “It is respectfully submitted that sentencing the appellant to life imprisonment and becoming only eligible for parole after serving 25 years given facts of the offence as presented and the failure to apply established principles of sentencing rendered this sentence unjustified and manifestly excessive.”