Imprisoned for the past 12 years awaiting trial for murder, Sherwin Nero is now free after Justice Navindra Singh sentenced him to time-served, stating that the time he had been incarcerated was a full sentence for manslaughter to which he pleaded.
At the High Court in Georgetown yesterday afternoon, Nero called ‘Catty,’ was arraigned on a capital charge for the murder of Guyana Defence Force (GDF) rank Ivor Williams, which occurred on January 23rd, of 2008.
Nero pleaded not guilty to the capital charge, but admitted guilt on the lesser count, accepting that he had unlawfully killed Williams.
The judge told Nero that it was unfortunate that he had spent all that time behind bars just awaiting trial, but expressed the hope that he would have used that time as a period of reflection towards turning his life around.
Given a chance to speak, Nero who attended the hearing virtually from the Lusignan Prison said, “I tell soldier man family sorry.”
His attorney Nigel Hughes told the court that the young Nero had been incarcerated at the age of 22 and barely knows one of his two daughters who was just two years at the time and does not know his now 12-year-old with whom her mother was pregnant when he was arrested.
He said that Nero has not had the benefit of time with his daughters but has used that time behind bars to reflect on what he had done and was remorseful.
He said his client regrets his actions and sympathizes with the family of the deceased for their loss.
The lawyer said that the then young and impressionable Nero had fallen prey to what he described as a difficult time in Guyana’s history to which he (Hughes) said he hopes the country never returns.
According to Hughes, Nero was not the trigger man, but was present at the time Williams was shot and killed. He described him as a model prisoner, adding that with several jail breaks during his incarceration, not once did Nero escape or attempt to.
Relating the facts of the case, Prosecutor Tuanna Hardy said that on the day in question Williams and other soldiers were on patrol in Buxton when they came under fire by gunmen with whom Nero was present.
Hardy said she acknowledged that the court needed to balance the need for justice for Williams and at the same time consider that it had been more than a decade that Nero had been on remand just awaiting trial.
Noting that 34 was still pretty young, Justice Singh told a visibly relieved Nero that there was still much that he could achieve and admonished him to invest in contributing positively to society.
Williams’ is one of three murders for which Nero had been accused. He had been acquitted of the other two.
It had been reported that Williams, 24, was shot in the left shoulder and the bullet exited the left side of his chest.
Two other persons were wounded in the shoot-out between patrolling ranks of the GDF and gunmen.
According to reports, an army patrol was making its rounds in the village in the vicinity of the Railway Embankment when the ranks came under fire from a number of gunmen wielding assault rifles. The soldiers returned fire and thus the exchange ensued.
Up to the time of Williams’ killing, the last casualty for the army by way of criminal elements had been in 2004, during a similar operation in Buxton.
Since the beginning of a crime spree in 2002 with the Mashramani Day jailbreak, over two dozen soldiers and police ranks lost their lives at the hands of criminals on the lower East Coast. The Police had been unable to control the situation, made worse with the 2006 disappearance of a large number of AK-47 rifles from Camp Ayanganna.