Clive Knights was yesterday jailed for 57 years after he was found guilty of murdering GTM Executive Bert Whyte.
The sentence was handed down by Justice Navindra Singh, after a 12-member jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict following 90 minutes of deliberation.
Knights had been on trial in the High Court for the murder of Whyte, of Phoenix Park, West Bank Demerara, who died after being stabbed twice to the chest on May 14, 2012.
Justice Singh explained that his sentencing began with a base of 60 years with 3 years being deducted for the time he spent in custody. The judge also ordered that Knights not be eligible for parole, until he would have served 30 years of the total sentence given.
In her closing arguments, defence counsel Konyo Thompson had emphasized the integral role that Knights’ caution statement played in the evidence presented by the prosecution.
She urged the men and women of the jury to take into consideration that without the caution statement, the prosecution had no other evidence to prove that Knights was in the car with Whyte at the time of his death. She added that the testimony of Whyte’s niece only gave an account for what she had seen a few hours prior to her uncle being murdered.
Additionally, Thompson asked the jurors to be mindful that an offence had been committed on Knights’ person, making reference to claims made in Knight’s caution statement that Whyte had sexually assaulted him. She emphasized the state’s failure to disprove that it wasn’t a case of Knights acting in self-defence.
State Attorney Judith Gildharie-Mursalin, meanwhile, had reminded the jury that they are the sole judges of the facts in the case. She also urged them to decide whether the reason given by Knights justifying the killing of Whyte was true or not.
She further contended that the contents of the caution statement came from the mouth of the accused, while adding that it was in that statement that Knights had confessed to killing Whyte.
She went on to say that Knights made no attempt to challenge anything that was mentioned in the statement. She told the panel of jurors that the case was a simple one which warrants justice for Bert Whyte.
In directing the jury, Justice Singh explained that the law needed to be applied to the facts of the case. He emphasized to the jurors that they were the “judges of fact,” while he was the “judge of the law.”
Throughout the trial, Knights sat in the prisoner’s dock with a blank look on his face, this remained unchanged after he was sentenced and made his way out of the courtroom in shackles.
The state’s case against Knights was that he had stabbed Whyte twice to the chest on May 14, 2014 at Bentinck Street, South Cummingsburg. It was also stated that Knights had changed the licence plate on Whyte’s car before making his way to Berbice where the car was later found abandoned.
After being stabbed, Whyte had managed to make his way to popular night spot, Palm Court and called out for somebody to take his phone and call an ambulance. He then collapsed and was placed in a taxi and taken to hospital.
The state called a total of 10 witnesses in the trial, including the niece of the dead man who testified to last seeing her uncle in the company of Whyte on the day he died.
Government Forensic Pathologist Dr Nehaul Singh confirmed that Whyte had died from haemorrhage and shock due the perforation of the heart and lungs as a result of the stab wounds he sustained.
Whyte was 44 at the time of his death and had been the personnel manager at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation for 10 years before taking up the position of Assistant Company Secretary at GTM insurance Company where he had been working for 6 months prior to his death.