Twenty-year-old Angelique Williams was yesterday afternoon sentenced to eight years in jail for the 2015 killing of her pregnant best friend, Lloyda Renita Thomas, whom she stabbed some 22 times.
The sentence was handed down by Justice Navindra Singh at the High Court in Georgetown, after the presentation of a probation report previously requested by Williams’ attorney, Mark Waldron.
Being granted a request to address the court before her lawyer, the young woman, in a tearful voice, said that she was sorry for what she had done and begged Justice Singh for mercy. “Your Honour, I wish to express my sincere regret for what I’ve done,” she said.
According to Williams, the deceased was not only her best friend, “she was more like a sister to me.”
In tears, she added, “I know that sorry can’t bring her back, but sometimes I wish it could.”
Williams told the court that she took full responsibility for her actions.
She then apologised to members of her family and the family of Thomas, who together filled the courtroom to capacity. Look-ing across to where Thomas’ relatives were seated, she said, “I am sorry for what I have done.”
Looking across next to her relatives, she told them, “I am sorry for the hurt and shame I would have caused.”
According to Williams, what she had done also affects her.
Referring to findings from the probation report that was read to the court, Waldron, in a lengthy plea in mitigation on his client’s behalf, asked the court to consider that she had come from a dysfunctional home.
He specifically underscored the violence to which he said she was exposed at a tender age, when she witnessed her father being physically abusive to her mother in the home.
Asking Justice Singh to consider the possibility of a non-custodial sentence, Waldron said that prison may not be the ideal place for her to reform. Counsel said that having lost both her mother and father to illness at a tender age had left Williams traumatized.
Waldron, who said that “life has been unkind” to his client, told the court that she has lost the persons closest to her and noted that both her older brother—with whom she once lived—and a family friend of his—who was a role model to her—lost their lives to illness and in a vehicular accident, respectively.
Waldron, who also told the court that his client has been a model prisoner, stressed that the young woman was not an evil person and that the killing of her friend was an isolated case. He said too, that had it not been for excessive drinking on that fateful day, the outcome may have been different.
According to him, Williams needs love and to be understood and he pointed out that attempts by her older sister to have her provided with counselling services from various agencies failed.
Expressing sympathy to the family of the deceased, counsel told the judge that while he is aware of the court’s need to send a message to society that unlawful killing will not be tolerated, Williams needs therapy and should not be incarcerated. “Life needs to give her a break,” he declared, even as he begged the court to give her an opportunity to return to society to make meaningful contributions.
‘Still a child’
Prosecutor Tuanna Hardy, however, asked the judge to visit the young convict with a sentence commensurate with the crime. She reminded the court that at only 21 years old, Thomas, who was in her third trimester with her second child, sustained 22 incised stab wounds at the hands of someone she would have trusted and considered her best friend.
Hardy advanced that Williams abused the trust the deceased would have placed in her.
Before imposing his sentence, Justice Singh recommended to Williams that she should be part of whatever anger management programmes the prison may have to offer. With the woman having previously stated that she wants to pursue studies in psychology one day to assist young persons in circumstances like herself, Justice Singh encouraged her to complete here CSEC examination before her release from prison, once it is possible.
The probation report indicated that Williams had dropped out of a secondary school.
Justice Singh told Williams that he would not grant her a suspended sentence, as she needed to pay for what she had done. In arriving at his sentence, the judge said that he had considered both the mitigating and aggravating circumstances of the case.
In this regard, Justice Singh said he had considered the possibility that “the system may have failed” the young woman if indeed she was never provided with counselling services when her sister requested.
He also considered her expression of remorse, including accepting responsibility for her actions at the first given opportunity and the fact that at age 18, when she committed the act, “she was still a child.”
The judge said he believes that the young woman was on her way to rehabilitation. He, however, suggested to her that since alcohol played a major role in what transpired, she should consider not drinking ever again.
Justice Singh then handed down the eight-year prison sentence, while informing Williams that the prison will make the necessary deductions for the time she had been on remand awaiting trial.
After the sentencing, members of both families were moved to tears.
Earlier this month, Williams pleaded guilty to fatally stabbing Thomas. While she pleaded not guilty to murdering the young mother of one, she admitted guilt on the lesser count of manslaughter for unlawfully killing her best friend on December 23, 2015 at Versailles, West Bank Demerara.
After the stabbing, a close friend of Thomas, Tiffany (only name given) had told Stabroek News that she learnt from other friends that the altercation took place after the women had left the Aracari Resort, where they had gone with about 10 other friends for a “hang.”
Tiffany had said that an argument broke out when Thomas, Williams and another friend were heading home.
At the time, they had been seated in the back seat of a vehicle driven by a male friend and they started to argue over the seating arrangements. It was then Williams reportedly stabbed Thomas continuously about her body.
Relatives of the deceased had said that Thomas and Williams knew each other since the tender age of six and Williams grew up in the same home with Thomas, where she was treated like her sister.
At the time of the killing, they both resided at the same South Ruimveldt address.