Months after the Court of Appeal overturned his death sentence and ordered a retrial, a Laing Avenue man was yesterday sentenced to 22 years and ten months in prison for killing a man over the claimed theft of a motorcycle.
While in 2013 a jury had found Terry Kissoon guilty of murdering Troy Smith, at his retrial the jury found him guilty of manslaughter.
Starting from a base of 25 years, Justice Sandil Kissoon yesterday deducted seven years for time the accused spent on remand. However, he added three years for two previous convictions for armed robbery and unlawful wounding recorded against the accused. Another two years were added to the sentence for the fact that the accused used a gun in the commission of the robbery, even though he repeatedly denied this at the sentencing.
While the convict expressed remorse over the death of Smith and had responded in the affirmative when asked by the judge if he was taking responsibility for the act, the probation report done by Probation and Social Services Officer Brook Barclay found that he had continued to deny he committed the crime.
The judge pointed out to him that if he had taken responsibility for his actions prior to the trial, he would have benefited from an automatic one third reduction of his sentence.
Barclay, in his report to the court, stated that the accused, the third of nine children, grew up in a stable home environment with both mother and father but he dropped out of school early and later became a tradesman and a miner. Because the family is of East Indian descent and they grew up in a predominantly African neighbourhood, there were instances of bullying which saw Kissoon retaliating, according to the report.
The convict married at a young age and the union produced four children (ages 22, 21, 20 and 15) but the couple later separated. In 2003, he was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to some 32 months in prison.
The report said Kissoon’s relatives expressed shock at his killing Smith as they described him as a loving and dependable individual. Many residents of his area also spoke positively about Kissoon and said he had mentored their male children and they asked that he be given another chance. However, there were a few who described him as a criminal and a bully and they said he and Smith were known to each other, a fact Kissoon had continuously denied. One resident even described Kissoon and Smith as friends.
In the prison system, the report said, Kissoon was initially known as the leader of riotous acts and it was while there that he was convicted for wounding. Later, he changed his ways, it said.
According to the report, the relatives of Smith said he died and left a seven-year-old child and that Kissoon had robbed them of an individual who was loving and very protective of his family. He was also described as a pillar of the family, whose members are still grieving his loss. They called for justice. They also noted that they have been threatened by Kissoon’s girlfriend.
Notwithstanding everything that was said in support of Kissoon, Barclay asked the court to take cognisance of the fact that a life was lost and the pain of the relatives when deciding on a sentence.
Kissoon was in December, 2013, sentenced to death by Justice Diana Insanally after he was found guilty of the murder.
The prosecution had said that Kissoon, who was tried in the Demerara Assizes, fatally shot Smith on July 30th, 2010, after accusing him of stealing a motorcycle. After fleeing, he was held more than a year later in Lethem.
Kissoon, when called upon to lead his defence, had then elected to give an unsworn statement, claiming that he was 300 miles away in the interior when Smith was killed. Kissoon also claimed he was wrongfully identified by Smith’s brother, Shawn Smith, who had testified during the High Court trial that he had seen Kissoon holding a gun in his hand.
According to reports, Kissoon went to Smith’s Lot 108 Thomas Street, Kitty home just before 7 am on the day of the shooting and accused him of stealing his motorcycle. He later told Smith that he had 24 hours to return it. The allegations led to a heated argument during which Smith was shot once in the left side of his abdomen before Kissoon fled the area.
The injured man was rushed to the Georgetown Hospital by relatives but was pronounced dead on arrival.