Husband and wife Nyron Thakurdyal and Vishwantie Ragnauth, who were on trial for the murder of Patentia miner Sunil Ramsundar, were yesterday both found guilty of the crime.
After more than two hours of deliberations, the jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts yesterday afternoon.
The accused, as they had for most of the trial, appeared aloof as the foreman delivered the verdicts. In the moments following, Ragnauth sat with her hands gently clasped and her eyes closed.
Attorney Nigel Hughes, in response to whether his clients had anything to say about the jury’s findings, proceeded to request the commission of probation reports prior to sentencing, which is expected on June 26th. The couple will remain on remand until that time.
Thakurdyal and Ragnauth had pleaded not guilty to the charge that they murdered Ramsundar on December 26th, 2014.
Throughout their trial, the evidence of various witnesses, including from daughter of the deceased, Zalena Ramsundar, and from the accused in their own unsworn statements, confirmed that there was an altercation between the three on the night that Ramsundar died. What was in dispute, however, was whether the fatal injuries Ramsundar sustained were as a result of the altercation.
During his summing up, Justice Sandil Kissoon pointed out that the statement of Zalena, an eyewitness, was never challenged in court. That is, the defence never suggested that she was not present at the scene and did not see what she claimed she saw.
Zalena had testified that on the night of the killing, her cousin, Ragnauth, had come outside into the passageway alongside their house after her father returned, quarreling. She had testified that her father had an encounter with Ragnauth and Thakurdyal just five minutes before, after his sister came claiming that Thakurdyal had beaten her.
In the second instance, she said an argument ensued between them and Ragnauth pushed her father and he pushed her back. Then, the man reportedly grabbed her hands and pinned them to the fence, causing Ragnauth to scream and “kick up” in defence.
Her screams brought Thakurdyal, who grabbed Ramsundar’s hands and held them up. Zalena said she saw Ragnauth hit her father in a cuffing motion and that Thakurdyal also did the same. She testified that they hit him in the head, neck, back and hands. She, however, had also admitted to not seeing a knife in their possession, and the defence had argued that the cuffing motion demonstrated by Ragnauth was because she was trying to get out of Ramsundar’s grasp.
The defence’s case was that there was no evidence of the accused being in possession of a knife on the night in question—which was supported by Zalena’s testimony that she never saw a knife at the scene—and that it was possible that the fatal injury that Ramsundar sustained, a puncture to the main artery in his neck, could have been caused by an object protruding from the fence.
However, as Justice Kissoon pointed out in his summation, pathologist Vivekanand Bridgemohan had testified to finding no foreign substances in the wound. Added to that, given the angle of the wound tract, Kissoon said the defence’s theory was improbable. A police officer had also testified to catching Ragnauth trying to conceal the knife at the police station.
Justice Kissoon had further noted that according to the post-mortem examination report, the injuries documented were not consistent with injuries that result from a beating or in any way suggested that the “blows had been fistic” as there was no swelling observed. What were observed were cuts and abrasions about the body, and the puncture wound to the neck, which Dr Bridgemohan had said were likely caused by a knife.