Man gets four years for Sophia killing

Marcellus Verbeke was yesterday sentenced to four years in jail after admitting to unlawfully killing his employer, Richard Skeete, on June 9, 2011, at ‘C’ Field, Sophia, Georgetown.

Initially indicted for murder, earlier this week Verbeke indicated through his attorney, Dexter Todd, his desire to plead to the lesser offence of manslaughter, which was accepted by Justice Navindra Singh and the prosecution at the High Court in Georgetown.

Presenting the facts of the case, Prosecutor Tuanna Hardy told the court that on the day of the killing, Verbeke entered a yard in which Skeete and friends were drinking and began stabbing him several times.

The court heard that Skeete, called “Troycie” or “Troy,” was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Marcellus Verbeke

According to a post-mortem report, Hardy said, the victim died of haemorrhage and shock due to multiple incised wounds. She said there were six stab wounds about his body, including to the neck, abdomen and back.

In a plea of mitigation before the sentence was imposed, Todd said that his client, 27, recognises the nature of the offence he committed and opted not to waste the court’s time by accepting responsibility.

Before concluding the proceedings, Justice Singh, who has gained a reputation for imposing stiff sentences, announced that his court will show mercy to anyone who wants to be honest and accept that what they have done was wrong and shows remorse.

Todd said Verbeke comes from very humble beginnings in the Sophia community and was unable to complete his secondary education, owing to the need for him to support his mother and younger siblings, which caused him to be independent at a young age.

Counsel said that at the time of the killing, Verbeke was still in the prime of his teenage years, being only age 19. “A big junk of his youthful life was taken away for the wrong decision which he is totally sorry for,” Todd emphasized.

The lawyer said his client had no antecedents and that the deceased had a reputation in the community for being a “bully.”

Begging the court for mercy, and the minimum sentence, Todd asked that his client be given a second chance, which would allow him to make meaningful contributions to society.

According to the lawyer, the young man has always been a good citizen and has participated in every programme offered by the prison. He added that he remains one of the most respected inmates.

For its part, the prosecution stressed that a life has been lost. Hardy asked the court to consider the manner of the attack, as Skeete was stabbed, not once, but six times. She advanced that Verbeke had motive for killing his employer, who was 34 years old at the time of his death.

When given a chance to speak, Verbeke said that he was very sorry for his actions, and asked the court for a “second chance.”

After the submissions, Justice Singh said that Verbeke would be given another chance so that he can contribute to society.

The judge said he thought himself to be a very good judge of character and believed Verbeke to be truly remorseful and regretful about the actions which followed what seemed to have been a momentary loss of self-control.

Justice Singh said that from perusing the deposition, he noted the history of aggression and abuse meted out to the convict by the deceased.

The judge, however, cautioned that a life was lost, and that the court cannot condone persons taking the law into their own hands. As a result, he told Verbeke that he had to be punished. After considering both the mitigating and aggravating circumstances of the case, Justice Singh sentenced the man to four years in jail. He commenced the sentence at 10 years, thereafter deducting six years for the time Verbeke spent awaiting trial.

In wishing the convict “good luck,” the judge told Verbeke he hopes he never again finds himself in such a case, and to avoid such confrontations as far as it is possible.

The judge complimented him on his good behaviour while in prison, as stated by Todd and the prison records, while challenging him to continue along that path, which can lead to his early parole.

Noting the presence of Verbeke’s many relatives, which Todd had pointed out seated in the public gallery, the judge said it signaled that the convict has their support, which will aid in his reintegration into society.

The state was represented by Hardy, in association with Prosecutor Siand Dhurjon.