Days after being handed over by the Suriname police, convicted drug trafficker Barry Dataram yesterday learned that he would be spending the next eight and a half years in jail.
In addition to the five-year sentence that was handed down in his absence last month, Dataram was yesterday sentenced in a Georgetown court to a total of three and a half years in jail for charges of attempting to defeat the administration of the law to avoid the consequences, forging a passport and leaving the country without presenting himself to an immigration officer.
Dataram, who pleaded guilty to the charges, was yesterday charged along with his common-law wife, Anjanie Boodnarine, with whom he had fled ahead of his sentencing last month on a joint charge of possession of cocaine for trafficking. While Dataram was found guilty of the crime, Boodnarine was acquitted due to insufficient evidence.
Dataram yesterday told Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan that Boodnarine was forced to flee and that he had obtained all the forged documents. She pleaded not guilty to the three similar charges laid against her but was remanded to prison due to her being deemed a flight risk.
The charges against Dataram stated that between April 15, 2013 and October 15, at Camp Street, with the intent to defraud, he conspired with others to commit a felony by forging a Guyana passport, #R0376916, in favour of himself, purporting to show that same was issued by the Central Immigration and Passport Office.
It was also stated that between September 20, and October 15, 2016, having been charged with the possession of narcotics for the purpose of trafficking and knowing that a decision in the case was pending, he willfully attempted to defeat the administration of the law to avoid the consequences.
An additional charge was read to Dataram that stated that on September 20, at Springlands, he departed Guyana without presenting himself to an immigration officer.
Dataram, 38, of Vriesland, West Bank Demerara, told the court that he did not willfully flee the jurisdiction but felt as though he was not being given a fair trial by Magistrate Judy Latchman, who eventually found him guilty.
He alleged that his then attorney, Glen Hanoman, who represented him on the possession of narcotics charge before Magistrate Latchman, appeared to have some personal issue with the magistrate. He recalled that when he was arraigned before the Chief Magistrate, Hanoman had told her that he was not doing any cases in front of Magistrate Latchman but was told to write a letter about it.
Dataram further alleged that Boodnarine was forced to flee the jurisdiction, while noting that he was the one who obtained all the forged documents.
As it relates to the details of the charge of fleeing the jurisdiction, Police Prosecutor Neville Jeffers stated that on September 20, Dataram left Guyana via a backtrack route at Springlands and went to Suriname. He was subsequently arrested by the Surinamese authorities and was handed over to the police at Springlands.
Jeffers also stated that Dataram was previously arrested and charged for the offence of narcotics possession for trafficking but during the course of the trial he absented himself. This resulted in the trial proceeding in his absence and him being sentenced to 60 months by Magistrate Latchman. A wanted bulletin was later issued for him.
The prosecutor stated too that between April 15, 2013 and October 15, 2016, Dataram conspired with others and forged a passport by inserting his photo on the bio-data page with the name David Persaud.
Although a request for lenience was made by Dataram, who stated that he is already serving one sentence, after hearing the prosecution’s submissions the Chief Magistrate sentenced him to a total of three and a half years in jail; he was sentenced to two years (18 months) for the attempt to defeat the law, 12 months for passport forgery and 12 months for leaving the country illegally.
These sentences are expected to run consecutively. He was also told that his sentences would have to be served upon completion of his current five-year sentence.
Meanwhile, attorney Clevaughn Humphrey appeared for Boodnarine, 21, of Lot 79 Patentia Housing Scheme, West Bank Demerara, and sought to get her released on bail, while saying she was not a flight risk.
However, Jeffers stated that Boodnarine was indeed a flight risk and should not be granted bail because she may flee the jurisdiction again.
He added that the case file is complete and the police are prepared to proceed with her trial.
Bail for Boodnarine was refused as the Chief Magistrate stated that she was a flight risk.
The matter was subsequently adjourned to October 31.