Man appeals conviction for torching wife

Natasha Johnson

Dellon Gordon, who was sentenced to 83 years in jail for killing his wife, who died after being set on fire, has appealed his conviction.

Gordon was found guilty by a 12-member jury on October 15th, 2014, for the 2011 murder of mother of three Natasha Johnson, who succumbed in hospital to the burns she sustained in the fire.

Following his conviction, Justice Navindra Singh imposed an 83-year jail sentence, with a minimum of 50 years to be served before the possibility of parole.

In his notice of appeal before the Guyana Court of Appeal, Gordon is contending, among other things, that the jury’s verdict was unreasonable and cannot be supported having regard to the evidence.

Additionally, he argues that the judge misdirected the jury on matters of fact and that he failed to give a balanced summing up of the case to the jury.

Gordon is of the view also that the judge did not deal adequately with the discrepancies or conflict raised by the evidence.

When the matter came up for hearing yesterday morning before acting Chief Justice Roxane George and Justices of Appeal Rishi Persaud and Dawn Gregory, the court was unable to proceed as the convict was without representation.

When asked, Gordon explained to Justice George that his family had made efforts to retain attorney Dexter Todd, but he noted that the lawyer was out of the jurisdiction.

In the circumstances, the court adjourned the matter until December 21st at 9am for reports on whether Gordon was able to retain counsel.

The state was represented by Prosecutor Teshana James-Lake.

Gordon had set the house on fire with himself, Johnson and their one-year-old child in it. Johnson’s two other children were also locked in the house.

Before the sentencing, Judith Gildharie-Mursalin, who prosecuted the case in the High Court, had asked Justice Singh to consider the brutal manner in which Johnson was killed, while noting that Gordon had harboured ill feelings for the woman before finally killing her.

She had said, too, that he showed no remorse for his actions or even concern for his child, who was also in the house.

According to the prosecutor, “he was more concerned about bad mouthing Natasha” and had referred to his wife as a “lady of the night.”

In handing down his sentence, Justice Singh told Gordon that his was one of the most brutal cases he had dealt with.

The judge thereafter commenced the sentence at a base of 60, adding five years for premeditation, 10 years for exceptional brutality, six years because it was domestic abuse, and five years because children were in the house.

Three years were, however, deducted from the sentence for the time Gordon had spent in prison up to that point, awaiting trial.

“Dellon Gordon made her a human torch. She was abused, threatened and finally murdered by the man she loved. Only a sick, diabolical mind could light a woman afire with three little children [in the house]. Tell me, how a man who loved her could hurt her so?” Gildharie-Mursalin had questioned.

The court had heard at the trial that Gordon climbed through a window, went into the kitchen and emptied kerosene into a bowl which he took into the bedroom and tossed on Johnson before throwing a lighter on her.

One of the woman’s neighbours had testified to seeing Johnson run out of the house covered in flames. The witness had stated that “flesh was falling from her body” as she ran down the street, screaming, “Dellon! Why you do this to me!”

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