Errol Williams, was yesterday morning sentenced to 23 years in prison, for what Justice James Bovell-Drakes described as the brutal slaying of 30-year-old firefighter, Patrick Daly.
Williams, called `Short Man’ had earlier this month pleaded guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter, admitting that he had unlawfully killed the fireman.
After listening to a probation report, as well as Williams’ pleas for “sympathy” and “mercy,” Justice Bovell-Drakes said he was happy that the young man had accepted responsibility for his action, but cautioned that a strong message needed to be sent to potential offenders.
The judge, in no uncertain terms, said that the court could not condone the behaviour exhibited by Williams on the fateful day and that society needs to be aware that punishment will be meted out to such offenders.
The judge noted further, that the court has a duty to balance the convict’s request for mercy with the fact that a life was lost, and that therefore, all the factors in the case needed to be considered.
After perusing the evidence presented during the preliminary inquiry at the Magistrate’s Court, the judge told Williams that he found some of it to be “very disturbing,” stressing that he took the life of a man who did him nothing.
In fact, the judge said he found that the problem started with Williams’ friend who related something to him, “and apparently you (Williams) felt that the deceased did something wrong to your friend.”
“But I don’t know that he did anything wrong to your friend,” the judge said.
Chronicling the events of the day in question, the judge told the court that Daly went into a latrine and locked the door, which was broken down by the convict. Though he tried to run in a bid to escape, the judge said Williams pursued the defenceless man.
After catching up with him, the judge said that Williams, who was armed with a cutlass, chopped Daly multiple times, inflicting upon him, six incised wounds.
The court heard that the fireman was chopped to the outer part of his left leg, just below the knee—and to the middle, of the outer part of his left thigh.
Daly also sustained a chop to his femur bone and left thoracic vertebra, seven centimetres from his buttocks. One of the chop wounds passed through his chest cavity, while the other was sustained to his left arm.
Further noting the severity of the injuries inflicted upon Daly, the judge said Pathologist, Dr. Nehaul Singh, after conducting an internal examination on the body, discovered an injury to the head, going from the back to the top of the skull.
A post-mortem examination revealed that Daly died from haemorrhage and shock, due to multiple incised wounds.
Justice Bovell-Drakes explained that he could not impose sentence, without also considering the severity of the fatal wounds.
“The court cannot allow you to go easy,” the judge said.
Before imposing sentence, the judge said he begins on the premise that, generally, people in Guyana live for about 50 to 60 years. As a result, he started with the latter base, deducting 30 years, representing Daly’s age when he died.
From that, a further seven years were deducted for Williams’ admission to guilt on the first-given opportunity, thus saving the court considerable time in otherwise having to conduct a trial.
To send the message of deterrence, however, the judge said that the convict will be sentenced for the remaining 23 years.
“We have to deter use of that weapon, in the way you used it,” the judge said.
Justice Bovell-Drakes said he believes that the convict can improve himself, and to that end, told him to be enlisted in academic programmes offered by the prison, and to be an example to persons he will meet in prison, and subsequent to his release from prison.
According to the probation report read to the court, Williams has poor literacy and numeracy skills.
“Take care of yourself and change your mindset,” the judge said.
In his address to the court, Williams, 33, had begged the court for mercy, asking for a minimal sentence, which would allow him an opportunity to see his only child, a 3-year-old girl.
The former fisherman said he was truly sorry for what he had done, and asked for a sentence that would allow him to return to society and, “change my life around.”
Attorney Maxwell McKay, who had said that his client was not a violent person, as suggested by the probation report, said that he was “only trying to protect someone he thought to be a friend.”
The state’s case, meanwhile, was presented by Prosecutor Mandel Moore.
Williams, was one of three men initially implicated in the September 15, 2009 killing of Daly, who was fatally chopped at Land of Canaan, East Bank Demerara.
In 2013, taxi driver Kurleigh Goodluck, was set free of Daly’s murder, after a jury returned a not guilty verdict.
The state’s case against Williams, which he did not deny, was that he, together with two other persons, attacked Daly, who had been in a toilet in his yard, sometime after 5 on the morning of the killing.
Moore had told the court that there was a misunderstanding between Daly and the men, who all shared the Lot 99 Land of Canaan yard, where the fatal attack occurred.
Moore said that Williams, who fled the scene, was arrested six years after the crime.