Joshua Baveghems, who admitted to killing his teenage girlfriend, whom he chopped 19 times after beating her with a spade, was yesterday sentenced to 12 years in jail by Justice Navindra Singh.
Baveghems, 24, was sentenced at the High Court in Georgetown, where he admitted guilt to the lesser charge of manslaughter for killing Angela McAllister, 17, on August 8, 2015. He had pleaded not guilty to the initial charge of murder that was laid against him.
The state’s case, which the young man did not dispute, was that on the day of the killing, McAllister had gone to his home, where he beat her with a spade, before arming himself with a cutlass, with which he chopped her multiple times about the body.
Prosecutor Tamieka Clarke, who presented the facts, said that on that fateful day, Baveghems had complained to his mother about problems he was having with his girlfriend.
She said that sometime later, the young woman had visited the home and was greeted by Baveghems, who started beating her with a spade, before reaching for a cutlass behind the refrigerator, with which he chopped her 19 times.
Clarke said that the convict unleashed the attack in the presence of his mother, brother and sister, who were forced to run for cover to protect themselves after trying to restrain him from attacking Mc Allister.
The court heard that his mother then called the police, who arrived one hour later, to find McAllister, who was dead by then, lying in the grass at the side of her boyfriend’s house.
After hearing the prosecution’s facts, Baveghems, in a soft tone, said, “Yes, I accept that it was because of my actions that she died.”
According to him, he felt overtaken by “evil forces” and was unable to control himself.
“Like I wasn’t in my righted sense. I feel like evil forces tek me over, and I couldn’t ah control myself,” he told Justice Singh.
Baveghems, however, said that he was sorry for his actions. He expressed same to the family of the deceased, and begged for their forgiveness.
In mitigation on his client’s behalf, defence attorney Keoma Griffith declared, “Love is something we could never understand, and he still thinks of her every day.”
In his plea for mercy, counsel said his client is now a Christian “and has accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Saviour while in prison” and that “he attends the Chapel where he signs and prays.”
According to Griffith, Baveghems keeps himself active by participating in the sport of boxing in prison and has hopes to one day represent Guyana at the international level.
Griffith said his client has also expressed interest in attending the prison’s anger management programme, but noted that sessions are currently not being conducted.
Griffith also begged the court to take into consideration that his client, who was “only 18 years old at the time of the killing, was still very young.”
He noted, too, that the young man had accepted responsibility for his actions at the first given opportunity, which saved the court’s time in otherwise having to conduct a trial.
Clarke, for her part, however, appealed to the court to visit Baveghems with a sentence which would reflect the gravity of his actions.
Clarke said that while the defence pointed out that the convict was merely 18 years old at the time of the incident, it must also be borne in mind that the deceased was herself very young.
She also stressed that his actions posed an obvious threat, not only to the deceased, but to his family also.
The prosecutor said this case represents yet another of the many domestic violence cases plaguing society, and that the court must send a message that persons must “walk away” if they are unable to deal with issues in their relationships.
After considering submissions from both the prosecution and defence, Justice Singh sentenced Baveghems to 12 years behind bars. From this total, the judge ordered that deductions be made by the prison for time spent on remand.
Justice Singh told the convict that as it is with domestic violence cases, he will likely be punished in his mind for a long time, since he killed someone he “loved.”
While stating that it was no excuse, the judge said that in handing down the sentence, he also considered the convict’s young age at the time of the crime.
He admonished Baveghems to be involved in rehabilitative programmes offered by the prison, and expressed hope that he would be able to make meaningful contributions to the society upon his release.
The state’s case was presented by Clarke, in association with Prosecutors Tuanna Hardy and Seeta Bishundial.
At the time of her death, McAllister, of Sparendaam Housing Scheme, East Coast, attended the Cummings Lodge Secondary School and was awaiting her results from the CSEC exams, which she had written months earlier.
Her sister, Shawney, had related to this newspaper that Angela had left home around to collect money sent by their mother, who had migrated. It was while she was in the city that Baveghems’ sister called under the pretext that “Joshua was sick” and told her to go to their Diamond Housing Scheme, East Bank Demerara home.
McAllister then went to her boyfriend’s home, where she met her demise.
Neighbours had related that she was beaten inside the house and as she ran into the yard, Joshua followed and inflicted the final blows on her.
The couple had been together for about a year and had separated for some time.