Junior Anthony Henry, who was recently convicted for the 2013 fatal shooting of a Sparendaam resident, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the crime.
Following a trial, a jury last month convicted Henry, called ‘Oswald,’ for the murder of Michael Hamilton, who was also known as ‘Mickel.’
His sentencing was, however, deferred to facilitate a probation report, which was presented before Justice James Bovell-Drakes at the High Court in Georgetown yesterday morning.
The court heard from Senior Probation and Social Services Officer Claudia Munroe, by whom the report was prepared, that in her interview with the convict’s grandmother, it was related that the deceased and his friends were in the habit of threatening him.
The court also heard from the report that some members of the Sparendaam, East Coast Demerara community had spoken of Henry being a part of an armed gang.
Highlighting Henry’s attitude towards the offence, Munroe said that while he spoke of retaliating after being attacked by Hamilton and his friends, he nonetheless indicated being sorry for the loss of life. “He said he is sorry that a mother would have lost a son,” the court heard from the report.
Munroe noted that while the convict related being attacked by the deceased, he told her that he only hit Hamilton in self defence before leaving the scene and he later learned that he had died.
Against this background, the probation officer said that according to the convict, he has no knowledge of the gunshot injuries Hamilton would have sustained, since he did not have a gun.
Having been convicted by a jury, however, Munroe said it was the duty of the court to exercise its function by imposing a sentence which would send a strong messages to society that such offences would not be condoned.
In a plea of mitigation, meanwhile, defence attorney Lyndon Amsterdam begged Justice Bovell-Drakes to consider not only the aggravating but the mitigating circumstances of the case as well, while noting that the court had a duty to balance both, before arriving at an appropriate sentence.
While stating that one could not turn a blind eye to the fact that a life was lost, Amsterdam asked the judge to consider that the actions attributed to his client were not premeditated, but rather spontaneous.
Counsel also asked the court to consider that Henry was a “considerable” distance away from Hamilton before the fatal altercation.
Additionally, Amster-dam begged Justice Bovell-Drakes to give weight to the testimony of Hamilton’s sister about her brother running Henry with a cutlass. Counsel said there clearly was a history of problems between the two men, which was also highlighted by the probation report.
For her part, however, Prosecutor Sarah Martin asked the judge to take into consideration the fact that a 21-year-old young man had lost his life at the hands of the offender, who used a gun to commit the crime.
Noting that the jury had spoken, Martin asked that the sentence reflect the nature and gravity of the offence.
Justice Bovell-Drakes said that having considered both the mitigating and aggravating factors of the case, and evidence substantiating the use of a gun, he not only found the jury’s verdict to have been reasonable but was satisfied that he had been convicted in accordance with law.
The judge said he also considered 25 years as being a reasonable term of imprisonment in all the circumstances of the case. He also ordered that Henry is only to become eligible for parole after serving 15 years of the sentence.
The judge told Henry he hoped he would use his experience of having been tried and convicted to positively uplift himself and to use his time behind bars to learn skills which would enable him to make useful contributions to society once released. “You’re young and you can make good from this opportunity,” Justice Bovell-Drakes told the convict, who was shortly after shackled and removed from the courtroom.
The man’s many relatives were reduced to tears after the sentence was imposed.
Hamilton was gunned down as he made his way to his aunt’s home on October 7th, 2013.