Convict to serve 15 more years for Agricola robbery-murder

Jermaine Savory

Jermaine Savory was yesterday morning sentenced to 15 years in jail for the murder of Melissa Payne, the woman who was fatally shot in a robbery on the Agricola Public Road in 2008.

Handing down the sentence was Justice James Bovell-Drakes, who presided over the trial at the High Court in Georgetown.

A jury found Savory guilty about three weeks ago but sentencing was, however, deferred to facilitate a probation report, which was requested by defence attorney Maxwell McKay.

Probation and Social Services Officer Pamela Atwell, who read the report to the court, yesterday, said the mother of the convict related to her the unusual behaviours he exhibited from childhood.

Melissa Payne

The court heard that Savory would often smile to himself for no reason and would complain of the moon following him day and night. This was observed throughout the trial and for the greater part of yesterday’s hearing.

The probation officer also said that he displayed tendencies during her interview with him, and whenever she would enquire from him what the matter was, “he would not really answer.”

When asked, Atwell said the convict’s mother explained that even though her son’s behaviour seemed strange, she never took him for a mental evaluation as he posed no harm nor threat to himself or others.

According to the report, the man’s mother related that in spite of his odd behaviour, he was God fearing, attended church and had a sound moral upbringing.

Prior to his trial, the court ordered that Savory be mentally evaluated. Psychiatrist Dr. Bhiro Harry subsequently reported that the man was fit to stand trial.

The probation report detailed the convict being physically abusive on at least two occasions, admitting hitting the mother of his child once to her face, as he said “she had violated him.”

On the other occasion, Atwell said he related that he struck the woman spontaneously.

The court heard, also, of the 30-year-old admitting to smoking marijuana and being involved in petty theft in Agricola, East Bank Demerara, where he lived, but he maintained his innocence in Payne’s murder.

The report also noted that the prison officials found that Savory was of good behaviour.

Meanwhile, Atwell noted that the family of the deceased is still traumatised by her loss. She said the young woman’s mother related still being affected by having lost her eldest child in the manner in which she did.

Atwell said the woman was unable to fully participate in the interview because of the hurt she still feels.

Further, the court heard that the sister of the deceased, who became emotional during the interview, spoke of feeling cheated of her sister, with whom she shared a close bond.

Emphasising that a life had been lost, the probation officer said that the court must send a strong message to society to deter potential offenders through imposing the punishment needed.

In mitigation, McKay said his client came from a stable home. He also asked that the almost 10 years which Savory had spent behind bars awaiting trial be deducted from the sentence imposed.

Justice Bovell-Drakes said that he had to consider that it was a felony which was committed, while noting its seriousness and prevalence. For this, he said that a strong message of deterrence had to be sent to potential offenders.

The judge commenced Savory’s sentence at 60 years, while noting that it was the age to which people generally live. From that, he subtracted 27 years, which was Payne’s age when she died.

From the remaining 33 years, a total of 18 years were further deducted, including the 10 years Savory had been incarcerated awaiting trial.

Justice Bovell-Drakes told Savory to use his time behind bars to improve himself so that when he is released from prison, can be an example to others, especially young people.

The state’s case was presented by Prosecutor Mandel Moore.

Payne, 27, of Lot 56 Den Amstel, West Coast Demerara, and her common-law husband, John Fraser, were proceeding to Georgetown when they were forced to stop because the truck they were travelling in encountered a mechanical problem.

Within minutes and while Fraser, a contractor, was attempting to fix the problem, gunmen pounced and robbed them, shooting Payne, who subsequently died.

During the trial, Assistant Superintendent of Police Elson Baird, one of the investigating ranks, said Savory had told him that although he was part of the attack, it was his accomplice who had shot and killed the woman.

Baird had said, that after contacting Savory at the Ruimveldt Police Station, he (Savory) admitted that he and another man, “Otto Bagot,” had robbed the woman, but that it was Bagot who shot her dead.

According to Baird, while at the station, Savory declared, “Inspector, is me and Otto do the robbery, and is he who shoot the woman.”

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