Ex-soldier gets life sentence for murder of uncle

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Dwayne Tappin

By Clestine Juan
A FORMER Guyana Defence Force soldier, Dwayne Tappin, was, on Monday, sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his uncle back in 2017.

High Court Judge Sandil Kissoon, in handing down the sentence, ordered that the convict serve 40 years behind bars before he is eligible for parole. In October, Tappin was found guilty by a 12-member jury, at the Demerara High Court, before Justice Kissoon. Tappin, 29, was convicted for killing 51-year-old Randolph Seenauth on August 6, 2017, at Lot 125 South Better Hope, East Coast Demerara.

Evidence in the case was led by state prosecutors Mandel Moore and Abigail Gibbs, while Tappin was represented by attorney-at-law Gwendolyn Bristol. Bristol had asked the court to have a probation report prepared on his client before sentence was passed.
On Monday, a probation report was read in court by probation officer Arianna Gibson who explained that Tappin’s relatives and persons in the South Better Hope community described him as pleasant and hardworking.

However, according to the villagers Tappin and his uncle Seenauth have had a bitter relationship and would often verbally abuse each other. Additionally, the villagers disclosed that a land dispute and alcohol played a role in the crime.

According to the probation officer, Tappin can be rehabilitated while behind bars if he is exposed to the correct programme.

The Judge, after sentencing Tappin, ordered that he benefits from programmes that will facilitate his rehabilitation.

According to reports, Seenauth and his nephew had lived in separate apartments on the plot of land. However, the family had a dispute over the plot of land which the dead man’s mother had occupied before she died. On August 6, 2017, around 04:30 hrs, neighbours heard a loud ‘commotion’ coming from one of the apartments, but then there was silence for a few minutes which led them to suspect something was amiss.

Neighbours called out for Seenauth but got no response and later contacted the Sparendaam Police Station. Police ranks arrived shortly after, and, upon pushing the front door to Seenauth’s apartment, found his head lying in a passageway between the living room and kitchen.

Further checks were made in the apartment and the rest of the man’s body was discovered on a mattress in the bedroom. The murder weapon was not recovered despite searches in both apartments. Tappin, hours after the murder, turned himself over to ranks at the Sparendaam Police Station.

During the trial, Government Pathologist, Nehaul Singh had testified on carrying out the post-mortem examination on Seenauth in 2017.

According to the witness, Seenauth’s clothing had blood stains and his head was wrapped in a piece of cloth. Seenauth’s head was severed from his body and had a laceration under his ears. The back of his hands had cuts which Singh deemed defensive wounds. The pathologist explained that the cause of Seenauth’s death was decapitation, which was caused by a sharp weapon– a cutlass.

Police Detective Sergeant, Kevin Martin, had testified during the trial and gave a detailed account of what transpired between himself and Tappin at the Sparendaam Police Station, on August 6, 2017. On that day, about 09:55hours, the detective said that he put the murder allegation to Tappin and cautioned him in accordance with the judge’s rule. After administering the caution, the witness said Tappin told him “Offisah, me guh tell yuh the truth of this story what happen.”

This response caused the Detective to enquire of Tappin if he would like to give a statement and he (Tappin) said ‘yes’ and asked him (Martin) to write the statement.

Detective Martin said that, in the presence of his colleague and Tappin’s sister, the statement was taken. In reading the statement to the court, the witness said that the murder accused told him, “Sir, this is what happen. Me guh at me uncle at Lot 125 South Better Hope where me mother use to live, but me mother move out and I get a key for the house.

Every time I go there, he (Seenauth) always attacking me when I go there. When I go there this morning he attack me with a cutlass after I open the door with me key. I suspect he was drunk so I tek way the cutlass from he and fire three chops. I then throw way the cutlass in the cane field at the back of Better Hope.”