The Guyana Court of Appeal yesterday varied the death sentence imposed upon Janaite Lall for the 2007 murder of his brother, Daveanand Sookdeo, imposing instead a 20-year prison term, with remission of some 10 years for time served.
Presenting the basis of his client’s appeal, attorney Mark Conway argued that the trial judge erred in law when he misdirected the jury that intoxication/ drunkenness did not arise in the case.
Conway strongly contended that these issues should have been put to the jury.
Acting Chancellor Yonette Cummings-Edwards, acting Chief Justice Roxane George and Justice of Appeal Rishi Persaud resolved the appeal in Lall’s favour, finding that based on the evidence, drunkenness arose. Resultantly, the court noted that it was a factual consideration, which should have been left solely to the jury to decide.
Conway submitted that the jury needed to be able to make a determination as to his client’s drunken state at the material time. He surmised that had this been left to the jury, there could have been a conviction for manslaughter as opposed to murder.
State counsel Sonia Joseph, who represented the Director of Public Prosecu-tions, had, however, rebutted Conway’s contention, arguing that the trial judge’s directions to the jury were adequate and that Lall was properly convicted for the capital offence.
The trial was conducted by Justice Franklyn Holder at the Suddie High Court in Essequibo.
Lall, called ‘Sunil,’ was convicted on July 8, 2011 for murdering his brother, called ‘Dammon,’ on September 5, 2007 at Walton Hall, Essequibo. The men, who had been drinking “bush rum,” had an argument and Lall was later seen firing a knife at Sookdeo.