A CORNELIA IDA, West Coast Demerara (WCD) machine operator who had pleaded guilty to killing his drinking buddy, was handed an eight-year prison sentence on Monday.
Deonarine Seetaram, 51, who was charged with the capital offence, opted to enter a guilty plea to the lesser charge of manslaughter when he appeared before Demerara High Court Judge, Priya Sewnarine-Beharry, in January.
Mohammed Shameem Hassan, 53, was fatally stabbed on February 9, 2019, during a drinking spree at his home in Cornelia Ida, WCD.
Seetaram, a father of three, who had been on remand since March 2019, was brought back to the courthouse on Monday for his sentencing hearing.
His lawyer, Teriq Mohammed was also present.
A probation officer told the court that Seetaram left school at an early age and was forced into child labour. The now-deceased man’s sister said that because Seetaram was regarded by her family as a “family friend,” the entire situation has been terrible.
For his part, Seetaram’s lawyer pleaded with the Judge to temper justice with mercy.
The attorney said that rather than wasting the court’s time with a trial, his client “owned up” to his wrongdoing and entered a guilty plea as soon as possible. He made the observation that drinking could have clouded his client’s judgment and made him behave that way he did.
Prior to his incarceration, Mohammed said his client was a “productive” member of society and assured the Judge that he will return to “normalcy” when he goes back into society.
State Counsel Caressa Henry, the prosecutor, noted in her remarks that Seetaram’s behaviour left Hassan’s children fatherless and without his affection and protection.
Furthermore, she pointed out that Hassan was killed while in the “comfort and sanctity” of his home. She said too that Seetaram left Hassan’s house without reporting the stabbing to the police.
Prosecutor Henry noted the frequency of unprovoked murders brought on by binge drinking, and said the court needed to take action by imposing a sentence that would serve as a deterrence to make it clear that such behaviour would not be tolerated.
She said that drunkenness is no excuse for taking a life.
Seetaram should have been aware of the consequences of his actions, according to Judge Sewnarine-Beharry, given his age at the time of the crime.
She subsequently handed down an eight-year prison term, with less time served, after taking into account the submissions from both parties.
The Prison Service was ordered by the court to see to it that this offender was enrolled in vocational programmes to aid in his rehabilitation and smooth transition back into society.
Among other things, Seetaram told the police in a caution statement that he went to Hassan’s residence that day and saw his father and the now-deceased drinking.
He claimed that he joined them and soon after his father requested to borrow a pair of scissors from Hassan so that he could cut his hair. After returning from upstairs, he told the Police that Hassan had given his father a pair of red and black scissors.
He related that his father later left and went to a nearby shop to purchase alcohol and during that time, Hassan started to curse him and made a derogatory comment about his wife and daughter.
Seetaram said that he became enraged by Hassan’s remark, so he picked up the scissors, and “juck” him. The scissors were left in Hassan’s chest, and he was left lying motionless in a hammock. Upon seeing Hassan’s state, Seetaram said he panicked and picked up his bicycle and rode away. Perforation of the heart due to a stab wound was listed as the cause of death.
Hassan had lived in Venezuela with his family for some 25 years before returning to his homeland, Guyana, in March 2018.