Nazamadeen Raffick, the 25-year-old man who confessed to fatally chopping and stabbing an 81-year-old businessman and his wife at their Bush Lot, West Coast Berbice home, was on Wednesday sentenced to life imprisonment for the crime by Justice Sandil Kissoon at the High Court in Berbice.
Raffick, called “Shazim”, who was earlier this month indicted on two counts of murder, opted to plead guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter after his trial had already commenced. In this regard, Justice Kissoon stopped the trial and directed the jury to return a formal verdict of guilty on the lesser count.
Between January 8 and 9, 2016, Raffick, of Bush Lot, West Coast Berbice (WCB), murdered Arthur Rajkumar, 81, and Diane Chamanlall, 44, during the course or furtherance of a burglary.
A Police report stated that on January 9, 2016, at around 03:00h, Police ranks acting on information went to a home at Lot 93 A, Bush Lot, WCB. As the ranks approached the home, three men were seen jumping over a fence of the premises. The Police ranks gave chase, but the men managed to escape.
Upon checking the house, which was ransacked, the ranks found the couple with chop and stab wounds about their bodies. They were taken to the Fort Wellington Hospital, where Rajkumar was pronounced dead on arrival.
His wife died while receiving medical attention.
During the ordeal, their toes and fingers, among other body parts, were severed. The elderly man was brutally chopped about his body, and his neck was almost severed; while his spouse sustained nine chop wounds, including on her hands, face and head.
Their cause of death was given as shock and haemorrhage due to multiple incise wounds.
Rajkumar and his wife operated an ice cream parlour, stationery store, and pool shop at their home.
State Prosecutor Abigail Gibbs said Raffick admitted that he and his accomplices “smoked marijuana and felt nice” before breaking into the home. And after they had committed the heinous act, the prosecutor added, the men went into the couple’s fridge and removed beers, which they drank while celebrating.
When asked by Justice Kissoon if he had anything to say before the court passed sentence, Raffick said, “I’m very sorry for those people’s loss…I only went deh, sir, and lash Mr Arthur one time. I ain’t kill no one…”
During a sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Justice Kissoon told Raffick that he and his accomplices used extreme violence to brutally kill the pensioner and his wife.
Declaring that he was not moved by Raffick’s cries for mercy or his expression of remorse, Justice Kissoon labelled those efforts as the killer’s attempt to save himself from the “gallows” if the trial had continued and he was found guilty by the jury.
“I reject that as an attempt by you to mitigate your sentence. I also accept that as a further indication from you that you are without remorse or contrition. Your attempt is to simply obtain a sentence that is consistent with a slap on the wrist, notwithstanding the gravity of your despicable act,” said the Judge to Raffick.
The Judge described the couple’s killing as “butchery”, while noting that the perpetrators attacked their heads, necks, and other vital parts of their bodies.
Justice Kissoon said Rajkumar was an aged person within the village, a pensioner who was operating a business for the benefit of the community.
“…a village elder who has served his time, who was there selling ice cream, selling groceries and providing a service to one and all…a respected member of his community,” the Judge said.
He pointed out that the victims were robbed, mutilated, tortured, and killed in the confines of their home – a place the law considers as one’s castle. Such was the bloodbath, the Judge said, that when Raffick was arrested, his clothes were drenched in blood.
The Judge noted that this was a crime motivated by financial gain. Given the prevalence of this offence in society, and the fact that it continues unabated, Justice Kissoon said, only a life sentence would be commensurate with the savagery the young men had inflicted on the couple.
Citing case laws, the Judge held that Raffick’s age does not serve as a mitigating factor, since statistics show that crimes of this nature are predominantly carried out by youths. To this end, he told Raffick that the administration of justice and the rule of law demand that a sufficient sentence be imposed, not only to punish him, but to deter like-minded individuals who may consider a similar course of action.
In the end, the confessed killer was sentenced to life imprisonment. He becomes eligible for parole only after serving 35 years. He was not granted the usual one-third deduction for his early guilty plea, since the Judge found the circumstances of the case to be very grave.
Raffick was, however, given credit for the time he had spent in pre-trial custody.
Justice Kissoon has ordered that, during Raffick’s incarceration, he be exposed to programmes that would aid in his rehabilitation for reintegration into society.
The convict was represented by Senior Counsel Mursaline Bacchus.
In 2020, Rooplall Abrahim and Madanpaul Gocoul, who were also charged with the couple’s murder, pleaded guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter. Abrahim was sentenced to life imprisonment; he will be eligible for parole after serving 25 years. Gocoul, on the other hand, was given a 24-year prison sentence. (G1)