‘Soldier Man’ sentenced to 12 years in jail for mall owner’s killing

Almost seven years after 48-year-old mall owner Ganesh Ramlall was shot and killed, Lennox Roberts called ‘Soldier Man’ and ‘Robby’, who confessed to the killing, was today handed a 12-year jail sentence by Justice Simone Morris-Ramlall.

Roberts, 39, a barber/taxi driver, formerly of Tuschen Housing Scheme, East Bank Essequibo (EBE), had been jointly charged along with 27-year-old Fazeel Bacchus of Cornelia Ida, West Coast Demerara (WCD) and Kurt ‘Banana’ Erksine formerly of Grove, East Bank Demerara (EBD) for Ganesh Ramlall’s murder.

Roberts and Bacchus, however, opted to plead guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter, while Erksine went through a trial and was found guilty by a jury; he will be sentenced on March 28.

Roberts was represented by Attorney-at-Law George Thomas, Bacchus by Attorney-at-Law Mark Conway and Erksine by Attorney-at-Law Lyndon Amsterdam.

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.

Ganesh Ramlall called ‘Boyo’, who was the owner of the popular Regent Multiplex Mall at Regent Street, Georgetown, and other businesses, was shot and killed after bandits invaded his La Jalousie, 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 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.

Meanwhile, today, a sentencing hearing was held for Roberts during which Ganesh Ramlall’s daughter, Sharmila Ramlall expressed that she is grieving the death of her father whom she described as a “gem” and her “everything”.

“Losing a parent has always been my nightmare, even as a young child growing up. I now know that even then, the fear only gave me a glimpse of the pain. Losing a parent is something you can only understand if you have lost one; let alone having one snatched from you. There are no goodbyes, no closure, no preparation. It feels like the end of life itself and it is by far the most difficult experience. My life, my dreams, they were all shattered. My father was my everything. He was my best friend, my shoulder, my strength, my biggest supporter,” Sharmila Ramlall said.

According to the young woman, her father “didn’t just die”; he was “murdered cold-bloodedly and very cruelly”. Recounting the day her father was killed, Sharmilla Ramlall said that she is still haunted by his screams and the sound of the bullets.

“My father was the head of our home. I always said if there were a hundred parts to a family; my dad would be 98 and my mother and I, one each. His presence, his being was so magnanimous, loving and compassionate. Family meant everything. He took all the burdens of the business and finances,” she added.

Sharmila Ramlall said, too, that she lives in fear and has locked herself away from everything and everyone. She went on to tell the court that since the passing of her father, she doesn’t know how to live or trust.

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 his part, Roberts cried and asked the court for forgiveness. In calculating an appropriate sentence for the confessed killer, Justice Morris-Ramlall considered the serious nature of the offence and the impact it has had on the dead man’s family.

Considering that Roberts was not at the scene of the killing, but part of the planning, and considering his mature age, the Judge said she believes an appropriate sentence would be 18 years.  She then made a one-third deduction, amounting to six years for his early guilty plea. Roberts was therefore sentenced to 12 years in prison.

From the 12-year sentence, the court ordered the prison to deduct the time the offender spent in pre-trial custody. 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.