Appeal Court upholds wife killer’s 19-year sentence

Deborah Allen

A 19-year sentence imposed upon Lawrence Rambarran for the fatal chopping of his common-law wife was yesterday affirmed by the Court of Appeal, which declared the sentence to be just, while specifically referencing the manner in which the woman met her demise.

Delivering the decision of the court was Justice of Appeal Arif Bulkan, who underscored the importance of balancing the interest of the appellant, whose contention was that his sentence was severe, against the interest of the public.

He noted that in sentencing, a court must, in part, consider protecting the general public as well sending the message of deterrence to potential offenders.

Lawrence Rambarran

Such factors, the judge said, are leading considerations for an appellate court, and formed the basis upon which its decision in Rambarran’s appeal had been premised.  He, however, pointed out that sentencing is an individual exercise based on the particular facts of each case.

Rambarran was initially indicted for murder, but copped instead to manslaughter charges, accepting that on February 15th, 2009 he unlawfully killed his reputed wife, Deborah Allen, at Oronoque, Port Kaituma, North West District. Allen was chopped about her body with a cutlass—once to her left breast, and twice to her face. She died from hemorrhage and shock due to multiple incised wounds.

Rambarran was sentenced on December 9th, 2013 by High Court Judge, Justice James Bovell-Drakes.

In its inquiry, Justice Bulkan said it was the duty of the court to review the trial judge’s sentence and interfere only if it could be found that the judge failed in principle or failed to apply the right principles to the extent that the sentence imposed can only be deemed to be excessive.

The judge said that this was not the case in Rambarran’s appeal. The court pointed out that the trial judge had rightly considered all the relevant factors—both mitigating and aggravating—before arriving at the sentence imposed.

Referencing the case file, Justice Bulkan noted that the trial judge had considered the nature and gravity of the offence committed, its prevalence, and the antecedents against Rambarran.

The court noted, too, that there was no evidence that the appellant had been provoked by the deceased, but that the trial judge had considered a probation report prepared on his behalf.

Also considered by the trial judge, as pointed out by Justice Bulkan, was the fact that Rambarran had thrown himself at the mercy of the court, pleading guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter.

Having considered all these factors, Justice Bulkan told the appellant that it could not be said that the trial judge erred in principle, so that he imposed a sentence which was manifestly excessive.

These factors, the judge said, were also considered by himself and the panel.

Referencing the facts of the case, the court noted that the deceased and her daughter had been attacked by Rambarran who did not relent, even as the defenceless woman tried to shield her child.

Quoting from case law, the judge noted the “horrendously pervasive incidence of violence against women,” before adding that such behaviours will not be condemned by the courts.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Justice Bulkan explained to a visibly disappointed Rambarran that his appeal would be dismissed as the court found that the trial judge did not err in principle and that his sentence had not been excessive.

Rambarran and his wife had been engaged in an argument prior to her killing.

Rambarran’s appeal was heard by Justice Bulkan, acting Chancellor Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Justice of Appeal Rafiq Khan.

Representing Rambarran was Senior Counsel Bernard De Santos.

The state, meanwhile, was represented by Senior Prosecutor Teshanna James-Lake.

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