Justice Navindra Singh yesterday sentenced 19-year-old Deosarran Bisnauth to spend the rest of his natural life in prison for the fatal beating of Robert Mangal.
The judgment was handed down after a 12-member jury unanimously found the young man not guilty of the capital offence, but by a proportion of 11 to 1 convicted him on the lesser count of manslaughter at the High Court in Georgetown.
The charge against the young Bisnauth, also known as “Strokes Mouth,” was that on July 6, 2013, at Enmore, East Coast Demerara, he unlawfully killed Mangal, called “Trevor.”
In a plea of mitigation before the sentence was imposed, defence attorney Bernard De Santos SC, told the court that his client had no previous brushes with the law and was not known to be of a hostile character. He further begged the court to consider that at the time of the killing, Bisnauth was only 16 years old, and currently at age 19 “is now attaining manhood.”
In this regard, De Santos asked the judge “to deal with him [Bisnauth] in a way that doesn’t take away his youth” and he also requested that his client be given an opportunity to contribute to society.
For its part, however, the prosecution asked the court to visit the convict with a sentence commensurate with his actions, while reminding that a life had been lost.
Prosecutor Tuanna Hardy, who led the state’s case, made a forceful appeal for a message to be sent to society that persons are not to be taken advantage of, whether the victim is in a drunken state or not.
When asked by the court whether he wanted to say anything before being sentenced, Bisnauth calmly responded, “No, sir.”
Members of the young man’s family, who were present for the verdict, seemed visibly overcome with shock, and unable to hold back their wails, which followed Justice Singh’s announcement.
Screams among Bisnauth’s inconsolable relatives rang out in the court complex as he was being escorted from the courtroom. He, meanwhile, wore an expressionless look on his face after the sentence was passed.
The jury returned with the verdicts after deliberating for just under three hours.
During the trial, the prosecution’s main witness Karan Chattergoon had said that he saw when Bisnauth hit Mangal three times with a piece of wood almost four feet long, causing him to fall face down on the ground.
Chattergoon, who described Mangal as his “drinking buddy,” said that on the day in question, they went to their usual spot to drink and an argument ensued between Bisnauth and Mangal.
The witness said he was unaware of what the men were arguing about as he, by that time, was already in the rum shop purchasing liquor and cigarettes.
According to Chattergoon, some moments later, after making his purchase, he went out of the shop and he saw the accused with a “2 x 4” piece of wood, with which he dealt Mangal three lashes in his back.
Leading his defence in unsworn testimony, Bisnauth, who professed his innocence, had told the court that Mangal had attacked him with a bottle, and he in turn picked up a piece of wood and dealt the man blows to the back.
He contended that he was defending himself.
The prosecution had, however, argued that it was not a case of self defence, since it was Bisnauth who was the aggressor.
Hardy had also advanced that the convict could not have perceived any threat of violence or imminent danger from the deceased, whose back was turned when he was attacked.
Pathologist Dr. Nehaul Singh had given the cause of death as cerebral haemorrhage due to blunt pireneal trauma to the head.
The state was represented by Hardy in association with Siand Dhurjon, who called 15 witnesses to the stand.