YURI Paul Nicholas has been sentenced to eight years in prison for the 2019 fatal stabbing of 23-year-old Elton Leonard at Karasabai, South Pakaraimas, North Rupununi, Region Nine.
Before Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry at the Demerara High Court, Nicholas, 23, was arraigned for the capital offence.
He, however, opted to plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter, admitting that he unlawfully killed Leonard on May 3, 2019.
Reports indicate that Leonard left home at about 19:00 hours on May 2, 2019, while under the influence of alcohol, and, just after midnight, he was in a heated argument with three men.
Leonard, a father of four, was stabbed to the left side of his chest and collapsed and died and the perpetrators fled the scene, as he lay dying in a pool of blood.
His cause of death was listed as perforation of the heart due to stab wounds.
According to court records, Nicholas led his friends to attack Leonard and took part in the altercation as well.
He had told detectives in a caution statement that he was not friends with Leonard and that the now-dead man had a history of cursing him whenever he [Leonard] was under the influence of alcohol. He claimed that Leonard was stabbed by a man named “Bruce”.
During Nicholas’ sentencing hearing on Monday, it was disclosed that he had left school in seventh grade and started smoking and drinking too much alcohol.
Attorney-at-Law Teriq Mohammed told the court during a plea in mitigation that, considering Nicholas’ youthful age, his client has a strong chance of rehabilitation.
The attorney submitted that his client has saved “precious” judicial time by entering a guilty plea and putting himself at the mercy of the court, rather than choosing to proceed with a trial.
“He is not known to be a violent or bad person,” said Mohammed as he implored the Judge to “temper justice with some mercy.”
The defence attorney further stated that immediately after his client was arrested, he assisted the police in their investigations and had even given detectives a caution statement outlining his role in the incident.
He stated that Leonard’s fatal wound was not caused by his client.
Meanwhile, Nicholas, seated in the prisoner’s dock, apologised to the court and the deceased’s family members when he was given the opportunity to speak.
Directing his remarks to the Judge, he said: “I’m pleading with you, my worship, to forgive me.”
In their address to the court, State Counsel Caressa Henry and State Counsel Joy Williams, on behalf of the prosecution, pointed out that although the confessed killer did not inflict the fatal wound, he was the one who “instigated the fight”.
They said that Nicholas fled the area after stabbing Leonard and went into hiding after he heard the police were looking for him.
In considering a punishment fit for the crime, the prosecutrixes also asked the court to consider the serious nature of the offence and the prevalence of unlawful killings in society.
They contended that considering the frequency of homicides, the primary goal of sentence ought to be to deter future crimes.
Justice Sewnarine-Beharry began the sentence at 21 years after taking into account the submissions from the prosecution and defence. She then deducted years for Nicholas’s early guilty plea, his time in pre-trial custody, and mitigating circumstances.
His sentence was reduced to eight years, less time served, when these adjustments were made.
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 into society.
According to records from the Guyana Police Force Records Office, Nicholas had previously been found guilty of assault and given a $10,000 fine by a magistrate.