After almost 6 years in jail, murder accused walks free due to lack of evidence

Twenty-one-year-old Marlon Garrett was on Monday freed of a murder charge after Demerara High Court Judge Sandil Kissoon ruled that there was no evidence implicating him in the crime.

The young man of Albouystown, Georgetown had been on remand for the capital offence for the past five years and nine months.

Last month, Garrett, during his arraignment, pleaded guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter. The Judge then adjourned his sentencing hearing to Monday.

However, when the case was called, the Judge changed Garrett’s plea to not guilty and invited his lawyer, Ravindra Mohabir to request the court to quash the murder indictment against his client.

The Judge explained that after reviewing the depositions, he found no evidence linking Garrett to the 2016 fatal stabbing of Omesh Chetram, 34, a vagrant, of Unity, East Coast Demerara (ECD).

According to Justice Kissoon, the evidence shows that at the time of the stabbing, Garrett was acting in self-defence, and in defence of his mother’s property– both of which are not criminal offences in law.

As such, the Judge exercised his supervisory powers and quashed the indictment against Garrett. Accordingly, he discharged Garrett and ordered that he be released from prison forthwith.

In his address to the court, Justice Kissoon noted that Garrett’s case is a travesty to the criminal justice system since he should not have been charged. “Marlon Garrett should not have been placed before this court or any other court,” he emphasised.

The Judge said that this case is among several cases in recent times which highlights the failure of the prosecutorial arm to present sufficient evidence to prove the elements of an offence. This shortcoming, he stressed, has resulted in the violation of Garrett’s constitutional right to liberty.

In the end, Justice Kissoon apologised to the young man and promised him that he will correct the injustice done to him by ordering his immediate release from prison.

State Counsel Taneisha Saygon and State Counsel Muntaz Ali appeared on behalf of the prosecution.

Garrett was accused of murdering the man on September 11, 2016, at Robb Street, Bourda, Georgetown. Police Headquarters had said that the killing occurred sometime between September 10, 2016, and September 11, 2016.

Investigations revealed that Chetram, who was reportedly a drug addict, and Garrett, were involved in a heated argument at Bourda Market.

The argument ensued after Garrett accused Chetram of stealing items from his mother’s stall in the Bourda Market. During the argument, Garrett stabbed Chetram to his lower abdomen before escaping.

The injured man was pronounced dead on arrival at the Georgetown Public Hospital while Garrett was later arrested and prosecuted.