Trio get 80 years for mini mart murder

-as judge sends ‘strong message’ to potential offenders

Steffon Campbell, Faisal Moore and Ray Yokum were last evening each sentenced to 80 years in jail after a jury convicted them for the murder of Glen Xavier, who was fatally shot during a robbery at the Cornbread Mini Mart on the night of May 9, 2012.

Trial judge Justice Navindra Singh, in handing down the sentences, said that a strong message needed to be sent to potential offenders and that the scourge which seems to have overtaken the society will not be tolerated by the courts. 

Faisal Moore

Responding to defence attorney Trenton Lake’s plea for mercy, Justice Singh firmly declared that “there will be no mercy.”

The judge emphasised that not only is society plagued with robberies, but that there are those who seem intent on taking innocent lives as well during the commission of such crimes. “A strong message will be sent to them,” he noted.

Justice Singh started the sentences at a base of 60 years, and thereafter made several additions. Five years were added because a gun was used in the commission of the crime; 10 years because the victim lost his life during the commission of another offence; and finally, another five years were added for public endangerment.

Steffon Campbell

The sentences were announc-ed amidst many agonising cries from weeping relatives of the convicts.

Justice Singh ordered that the men will become eligible for parole only after they would have spent at least 40 years behind bars.

Given a chance to speak before sentences were imposed upon them, each convict maintained his innocence as each had done during the trial when called to lead their respective defence.

Campbell, called “Burnham,” appeared visibly shocked after hearing the verdict against him.

For their part, Yokum and Moore declared that they have minor children in the “free world” and begged for lenience.

Ray Yokum

Moore, called “Hard Mouth,” added, that he also has his mother. He declared that he had spoken “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” during the trial.

“God knows I’m innocent… please be lenient with me Boss,” the convict asked the judge, as he thereafter sat with tears streaming down his face while he awaited his sentence.

According to a caution statement (CS) which Lance Corporal Rodrick Melville had testified taking from Moore, the convict said that Xavier was shot and killed by a man whom he identified only as “Burnham.”

In a statement, which Detective Rodwell Sarrabo had testified to taking from Yokum, this convict, too, said that he did not kill anyone, but only “link up de wuk,” which he passed on to “Hard Mouth,” and “Burnham.”

Yokum, the court had heard from the statement, told “Hard Mouth” and “Burnham,” to “do them thing properly.”

This convict was quoted in the statement as saying, “I didn’t kill them men. I link up Burnham and Hard Mouth with X, and they rob dem men, and it had to be dem kill dem men.”

Meanwhile, in the CS which Sarrabo said he also took from Campbell, “Hard Mouth” was identified as the shooter.

The men had each denied knowing the other.

The 12-member mixed jury returned with its unanimous verdicts after deliberating for a little over six hours. During this time, they had emerged once from the jury room to seek further directions.

The verdicts were announced at some minutes past six last evening.

In summing-up the case to the jury yesterday morning, the judge gave directions on both murder and manslaughter.

In mitigation, defence attorneys Lake and George Thomas, who were unsuccessful in their pleas for leniency, said that the young men were not beyond reform, and can contribute to society.

In response to the defence’s submissions, state counsel, Siand Dhurjon asked the court to consider that not only was a gun used, which was aggravating enough, but that the shooting occurred in a residential area, where many of other persons could have been killed, or seriously injured.

The prosecutor said too that the crime was premeditated, and asked the court for the “stiffest penalty” that would send a strong message to society that these crimes would not be condoned in any form.

Dhurjon asked the court to also take into account that because the convicts repeatedly refused to take responsibility for their actions, they expressed no remorse.

Asked whether the men had previous brushes with the law, the prosecutor presented to the court, penal records for both Campbell and Yokum. The latter had been previously convicted and served 12 months for assault.

He had also been charged with abusive language and disorderly behaviour, for which, upon conviction, he was fined, reprimanded and bonded to keep the peace for six months.

Yokum, meanwhile, was previously convicted on charges of larceny from the person and simple larceny, for which he was sentenced to 18 and 26 months in prison, respectively.

Yokum, Campbell and Moore were represented by attorneys Thomas, Maxwell McKay and Lake, respectively.

The state, meanwhile, was represented by prosecutors Dhurjon and Tuanna Hardy.

The trial, which was heard at the High Court in Georgetown, lasted for some two weeks and saw about 14 witnesses being called to the stand.

Xavier, 26, of Harlem, West Coast Demerara was shot and killed by the trio after being robbed around 9pm, at the Cornbread Mini Mart at D’Urban and Lime streets, Georgetown.

Armed with handguns, they carried out the attack, before escaping with an undisclosed amount of cash on two Honda CG motorcycles.

The victim, who was shot in his chest and left hand, later succumbed to his injuries. He died from haemorrhage and shock, due to gunshot injuries.

Another man was injured during the shooting.

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