Judge to await probation report before sentencing mother for poisoning children

With her plea for a probation report being granted, Hofosawa Awena Rutherford’s sentencing for the poisoning deaths of her two children was yesterday deferred until April 9th.

In a brief address, the convict begged Justice Navindra Singh at the High Court in Georgetown for mercy, while requesting that a probation report be done before her sentencing.

“Your Honour, I am asking for mercy and leniency; and please for a probation report,” a composed Rutherford, who had fainted after the jury convicted her on Thursday, said softly.

This request was echoed by her attorney, Adrian Thompson, who noted that his client is being treated by a psychiatrist.

“It is her right to have a probation report, and I’m so ordering,” the judge said, before adjourning the matter until April 9th for sentencing.

Following an uproar which she created on Thursday when the jury returned with its guilty verdicts, scores of persons, including Rutherford’s relatives, filed into the courtroom in anticipation of the sentencing.

Those unable to secure a seat in the courtroom, stood anxiously on the corridors outside.

Many seemed disappointed by the announcement that sentencing would be deferred.

An ambulance had to be summoned for the woman on Thursday after Rutherford collapsed subsequent to the jury foreman announcing the verdicts, resulting in sentencing initially being deferred to yesterday.

She was convicted on two counts of manslaughter over the killing of her four-year-old daughter Hodaciea Cadogan and one-year-old son Jabari Cadogan Jr., whom she fed rat poison.

The children died on March 27th, 2014, moments after Rutherford administered carbon tablets—a pesticide popularly known for killing rats—to them. Her claim was that she thought that she had given them cold medication.

Addressing the court at the close of the prosecution’s case against her, Rutherford, in unsworn testimony, had earlier this week stated that she never gave her children carbon tablets, but rather administered to them what she believed to be “cold tablets.” “I did not buy rat poison for my children,” she declared.

It was the state’s case that the young woman deliberately administered rat poison to her children. Prosecutor Tiffini Lyken had asked the jury to consider the pungent odour that carbon tablets carry and the unlikeliness of those being confused with any sort of cold tablets.

She had asked the jury to rubbish Rutherford’s claims of ever purchasing cold tablets for the children as no evidence supported the assertion that they were even suffering from colds at the time.

According to a caution statement police said Rutherford gave, she claimed she purchased cold tablets from a man who also sold rat poison and “other stuff” on the road at the Plaisance Market.

Lyken asked the jury to question the plausibility of Rutherford’s story that she would buy cold tablets for her small children “from a man on the road,” who would be selling poison, also in the form of tablets.

Referencing the caution statement in which Rutherford told police about having problems and being frustrated while awaiting word on her application for a job as a traffic warden with the Guyana Police Force, the prosecutor stressed that it was because of this frustration that Rutherford killed the children.

Rutherford was herself hospitalised for some time after ingesting the tablets.

The state’s case was presented by Lyken, in association with Prosecutors Shawnette Austin and Abigail Gibbs.

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