Father of four to serve 23 years in jail for mall owner’s killing

Demerara High Court Judge Simone Morris-Ramlall on Monday imposed a 23-year prison sentence on a father of four minors, who was found guilty earlier this month of unlawfully killing mall owner and father of one Ganesh Ramlall.

Kurt ‘Banana’ Erksine, 41, formerly of Grove, East Bank Demerara (EBD) was found unanimously guilty by a jury on a manslaughter charge over Ganesh Ramlall’s death. He was initially indicted for the capital offence of murder.

Ganesh Ramlall called ‘Boyo’, who was the owner of the popular Regent Multiplex Mall at Regent Street, Georgetown, was shot and killed after bandits invaded his La Jalousie, West Coast Demerara (WCD) home on July 05, 2015.

He had just returned home and went to use the outside bathroom when he was confronted by four men who shot him eight times about his body and took away his licensed firearm, jewellery, and a wallet before escaping. He was later pronounced dead on arrival at the West Demerara Regional Hospital.

Erskine, who was further remanded to prison following the verdict, returned to court Monday (March 28, 2022) for sentencing.  During the hearing, he begged the dead man’s family for forgiveness even though he insisted that he played no part in the killing.

Speaking to Ganesh Ramlall’s widow and daughter, Erksine said: “I’m very sorry for the loss of your husband and father. I’m so sorry and I’m asking for your forgiveness. I’m in constant prayers for the deceased’s family.”

Dead: Ganesh Ramlall 

According to the convicted killer, he prays that God gives them strength and guidance to carry on with their lives. He begged Justice Morris-Ramlall for leniency and mercy and for a chance to return to society and his family. He implored, “Please give me a chance to return to society to demonstrate that I am a good person.”

Chitrakha Ramlall, the dead man’s wife, shared that her husband was brutally murdered by “some greedy and covetous men who destroyed all of our happiness”. The woman expressed that her home has not been the same since his death.

“No birthday, no Christmas, no Phagwah is the same anymore. The sad reality that he was brutally murdered keeps playing in my mind. I still live in fear for my life. I’m afraid for my daughter’s life.  Sometimes it feels like I’m living a nightmare daily. I don’t think I will ever be able to find peace and recover from this,” she cried.

The dead man’s daughter had previously told the court that her life and dreams were all shattered when her father met his untimely demise. She described her father as her best friend, her shoulder, her strength, and her biggest supporter.

She continued, “I need everyone to understand that my father’s life was valued. He was an asset. I need the peace of knowing the perpetrators are being punished as I have been. I should have never lost my father, my person.”

For her part, Justice Morris-Ramlall, in calculating an appropriate sentence for the convict, considered the serious nature of the offence and the impact the man’s death has had on his family. Not only was Erksine one of the “chief architects”, but the Judge also said that he “organised” persons to subdue Ramlall. In the end, one of those persons, she noted, fatally shot the businessman.

Erksine was sentenced to 23 years in prison, less the time spent in pre-trial custody.

Erskine had been jointly charged along with Lennox Roberts called ‘Soldier Man’ and ‘Rabbie’, a barber/taxi driver, formerly of Tuschen Housing Scheme, East Bank Essequibo (EBE), and 27-year-old Fazeel Bacchus of Cornelia Ida, West Coast Demerara (WCD) for the businessman’s murder.

Roberts and Bacchus, however, opted to plead guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter. A few weeks ago, Bacchus, who was sentenced to six and a half years in prison, was released on time served as his sentence was fully satisfied by his previous time spent in custody awaiting trial. He had been on remand since July 2015. Roberts, the mastermind, was handed a 12-year prison sentence.

Roberts was represented by Attorney-at-Law George Thomas, Bacchus by Attorney-at-Law Mark Conway, and Erksine by Attorney-at-Law Lyndon Amsterdam. The Director of Public Prosecutions had granted a fiat to Attorneys-at-Law Nigel Hughes, Konyo Sandiford, Narissa Leander-Theadore, and Iyanna Butts, from the Hughes, Fields, and Stoby Law Firm, to prosecute the case.