Neville France, 43, was yesterday sentenced to 15 years behind bars for the 2013 unlawful killing of his younger brother, whom he stabbed to the back during a scuffle.
Begging for mercy on his client’s behalf, attorney Siand Dhurjon said that the killing was an unfortunate one, considering that Neville had actually intervened as a peacemaker between the deceased, Richard France, and a neighbour who had a misunderstanding.
He said the brothers, who were both intoxicated at the time, ended up in a scuffle, which was started by Richard, who advanced towards his older brother with two bricks, which he pelted at him.
After charging towards his client, Dhurjon said the 20-year-old Richard then reached for a knife he had in his possession at the time, which Neville was able to wrestle from him.
According to counsel, it was during this time that Richard sustained the stab wound to his back, “with his own knife.”
Referencing the deposition, however, Justice James Bovell-Drakes told the father of three that it was commendable he was able to disarm his younger brother “but your mistake is that you used it on him.”
Noting the court’s duty to weigh both the mitigating and aggravating circumstances of each case, the judge expressed hope that Neville would have had time to reflect on his actions and their consequences.
The judge pointed out too, that according to a caution statement, Neville had told the police, “I tek away the knife from he and juk he.”
Justice Bovell-Drakes said he believed the use of alcohol that day inhibited the brothers’ ability to think rationally, not taking stock of the possible far reaching consequences of their actions.
A probation report described the brothers as habitual, heavy drinkers. Probation and Social Services Officer Renesia Lewis told the court that interviews with members of the community revealed that both were often “in a drunken state.”
Though the loss of Richard and Neville’s incarceration has had an impact on the family, Lewis underscored the needed for the court to send a strong message of deterrence to potential offenders.
The judge started his sentence at a base of 62 years, representing what he said was the general life expectancy. From that he deducted 20 years—signifying Richard’s age at the time of his death.
From the balance of 42 years, five years were deducted as remission for the time Neville has been on remand awaiting trial. An additional 10 years were taken off for the early plea, saving the court considerable time in otherwise having to conduct a trial.
From the remaining total of 27 years, the judge deducted a further 12 years, for the plea in mitigation presented by Dhurjon.
Upbraiding him for his conduct that day, the judge told Neville that both he and his brother acted “senselessly,” failing to demonstrate to younger persons of their community the manner in which they ought to conduct themselves when settling disputes.
In a barely audible tone, Neville said that he was sorry that his brother had lost his life.
On January 15th, Neville denied an indictment that he had murdered his brother, copping instead to the lesser charge of manslaughter. He accepted that on December 12th, 2013, in the North West District, Essequibo, he unlawfully killed Richard France.
His sentence was deferred to yesterday to facilitate the preparation and presentation of the probation report.
The case was heard at the High Court in George-town.
The state’s case was presented by Prosecutor Mandel Moore.