EIGHT years after businesswoman Sirmattie Ramnaress was killed in her Diamond, East Bank Demerara home, the “lookout” man, Colin Grant, was on Monday sentenced to 21 years imprisonment for his role in the gruesome crime.
Grant, formerly of Diamond Housing Scheme, was sentenced by Justice Jo-Ann Barlow at the Demerara High Court. On October 12, he was arragined for the capital offence of murder but opted to plead guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter.
He admitted that, between August 30-31, 2013, in the county of Demerara, he killed Ramnaress called “Sabo.”
His co-accused, Colin Bailey, was freed last month after the prosecution disclosed that it did not have evidence linking him to the murder. Bailey, an ex-cop, was the victim’s reputed husband.
The Guyana Chronicle had reported that Ramnaress was found dead in her garage on the morning of August 31, 2013, with a stab wound and injuries to her head and body.
While petrol had been thrown all over her house, it was the bond at the back of the yard that was set alight and destroyed. The woman’s body was discovered after the fire service responded to a report of a fire.
Her attacker also removed the footage from surveillance cameras that were located around the house.
During the sentencing hearing held on Monday, state prosecutor Sarah Martin related the facts surrounding the killing of the 46-year-old woman.
Martin told the court that a post mortem conducted by Government Pathologist Dr. Nehaul Singh had revealed that Ramnaress died owing to cerebral haemorrhage resulting from cranial trauma compounded by a fractured spine.
She said that on November 6, 2015, a police detective acting on information went to Grant’s home and confronted him. However, he fainted when the rank put the murder allegation to him.
He later regained consciousness, and the police carried out a search at the premises and found a laptop on a barrel. The laptop was later identified as Ramnaress’ property.
The court was told that Grant was later taken to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Headquarters at Eve Leary. On November 7, 2015, he was contacted by a police officer at CID and said, “Boss ah gon tell you everything I know.”
He then gave the police a caution statement and revealed that his friend Paul Bascom was the mastermind behind the crime. This publication was made to understand that Bascom died during an armed confrontation with the police on December 07, 2013, at Golden Grove, East Bank Demerara, following an alleged robbery.
Grant in his statement claimed that Bascom gave him instructions and told him about his plans to rob Ramnaress on August 31, 2013.
“The accused followed his [Bascom] instructions by joining a car driven by a man, and went to the starting of 21st Street, Diamond, and looked out for any police vehicle,” Martin said
Grant further told investigators that three days after the crime, Bascom gave him a laptop and $100,000.
On November 7, 2015, during another interview with the police, Grant said that he and Bascom were friends. He also admitted that Bascom was involved in criminal activities and knew Ramnaress.
Two days later on November 9, Grant gave the police another statement and disclosed that in addition to the laptop and money, he was given a gold ring. Grant told the police that he gave the gold ring to his mother.
“Boss meh lie duh piece. The money, the laptop and the ring is wah he give me as my share from this wuk,” Grant said under caution. Later that day, he was charged with murder.
However, on November 11, 2015, Grant during another interview with the police said, “Boss the stroy wah I tell yall is not the full-out truth… I want fuh tell you something wah ah leff out.”
He then gave a written caution statement claiming that he and Basom planned the crime and that he was the lookout man.
Following the prosecution’s disclosure, Grant’s attorney Dexter Todd addressed the court.
“Your honour the accused before the court is one which [sic] found himself at that time with the wrong friends,” he said.
According to Todd, there is no evidence that his client played a role in inflicting any injuries on Ramnaress. “Even as the lookout person…. The accused [Grant], did not in any way contribute, support or even attempt to encourage any form of violence being committed onto the deceased,” he said.
In his plea of mitigation, Todd said that his client is a “prime candidate” for rehabilitation and can be reintegrated back into society. “The real perpetrators of the crime are not before the court,” he added.
Grant, who is the father of one, broke down in tears while addressing the court. He pleaded with the judge for leniency.
“I am very sorry… I have a daughter out there. She never got to see her father. She is seven years old. I have never been there for her. I am sorry for being with the wrong set of friends them on the road,” he said during his address.
However, Justice Barlow in response said he has to take some responsibility as he was involved in the planning.
“You engaged in a plan to commit a felony at the home of the deceased. Whether that plan was to rob her or kill her, it was still a plan to commit a felony and because there was that plan, you could have, if you were tried, been found guilty of murder.”
According to the judge, she found that a custodial sentence is necessary, but the case did not require the maximum sentence.
In delivering her sentence, the judge said that after committing of the offence, Grant remained silent for over two years and when confronted by the police with the stolen property of the businesswoman, he did not come clean and tell the whole story.
She pointed out that he eventually provided additional information, which the court sees as him not immediately accepting responsibility for what had happened.
The judge sentenced Grant to 21 years and further ordered that the prison deduct one-third of the sentence for his early guilty plea. The judge ordered the deduction of an additional six years for the time he had spent in pre-trial custody.