“Yankee” moves to overturn 70-year sentence for Parika fuel dealer’s murder

Curt Thomas referred to as “Yankee”, 45, who was sentenced to 70 years in prison for the 2016 murder of Parika, East Bank Essequibo (EBE) fuel dealer, Seeram Singh, has filed an appeal to overturn the sentence.
In November 2020, he was found guilty by a jury of the April 30, 2016 murder of Singh, 52, who was shot to the head and hip during a robbery. The convicted killer was subsequently sentenced to 70 years in jail by Justice Navindra Singh, who set his eligibility for parole after spending 40 years in prison.

Murder convict: Curt Thomas

However, despite the jury’s verdict, Thomas continued to maintain that he is innocent of the crime. Media reports stated that Singh called “Brother See” of Lot 40 Parika Outfall, EBE, was on his mobile phone walking along the roadway in the area when he was attacked by a man.
In an attempt to raise an alarm, the injured man ran towards a shop in the area, but the gunman gave chase and caught up with him. A scuffle ensued, and it was then that the gunman shot and stabbed Singh.
Reports are when the businessman fell, the gunman relieved him of two gold chains before fleeing the scene. The businessman was rushed to the Leonora Cottage Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
In a Notice of Appeal filed at the Court of Appeal, Thomas, through his lawyer, Lydon Amsterdam, is asking that his conviction and sentence be set aside. In so doing, the convict proffered eight grounds. He has mainly taken issue with how the identification parade was conducted.

Murdered: Seeram Singh

According to his lawyer, the trial Judge wrongly admitted the results of an identification parade even though there was conflicting evidence that tended to show that persons on the parade were not of a similar age, race, general appearance, and class of life as his client.
“The trial Judge during his summation of the evidence to the jury posed several rhetorical questions for their consideration which were prejudicial to [Thomas] and may have influenced the jury in their deliberation of the evidence to arrive at a verdict, unfavourable to [Thomas],” he argued.
Further, Amsterdam argued that the summation of the evidence by the trial Judge was not balanced as Justice Singh emphasised aspects of the evidence favourable to the prosecution’s case and omitted to mention inconsistencies and contradictions in the evidence which tended to weaken the case for the prosecution.
Among other things, counsel contended that his client did not have a fair trial, because only a selected number of witnesses who gave evidence in the Preliminary Inquiry (PI) were called at the trial, and witnesses who gave evidence that conflicted with those witnesses and tended to show that another person may have killed Singh were not called at the trial.
The lawyer said that the sentence imposed on his client is too severe in all the circumstances of the case.
According to counsel, “The trial Judge utilised a formula in passing the sentence of 70 years that is without legal basis and he failed to take into account established sentencing guidelines and gave [Thomas] a sentence that was inconsistent with the current sentencing practice”.