5 years in jail for taxi driver who drove getaway car in teenager’s killing

Melroy Doris, the taxi driver who admitted to driving the getaway car after 19-year-old Lusignan, East Coast Demerara (ECD) hairdresser Ashmini Harriram was shot and killed was on Thursday sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for manslaughter. Doris, 34, who was initially indicted for murder, had pleaded guilty to the lesser offence earlier this month. The sentence was imposed by Justice Brassington Reynolds.

Doris, who was represented by Stanley Moore, SC, pleaded guilty to the charge which stated that on July 10, 2014, in the county of Demerara, he unlawfully killed Harriram, called “Monisha Harriram.” State Counsel Tyra Bakker appeared on behalf of the Prosecution.

In sentencing the confessed killer, the judge considered the following: his age, nature and manner in which the offence was committed, domestic circumstances,  the fact that he has no previous brushes with the law, his early guilty plea, and the observations made by a probation officer and his lawyer in mitigation.

The judge also considered that there was nothing on the evidence which revealed that Doris was involved in planning the young woman’s killing and the fact that he was not the shooter.

In sentencing Doris, Justice Reynolds started at a  base of 12 ½ years. From that, a deduction of seven years was made; this reflects the time Doris spent in pretrial custody. Another half of a year was deducted for his early guilty plea and other mitigating factors in his favour.

His sentence stands at five years’ in prison.

According to the facts of the matter, on the day in question, Harriram and her cousin were walking along Lusignan Public Road when they saw a burgundy motorcar, PRR 8370 parked along the said road. According to the prosecutor, a few minutes after, Harriram was shot to the head. Police investigations, she added, revealed that Doris was in possession of the car at the time the teen was shot.

The prosecutor disclosed that Doris gave a caution statement in which he admitted that he was the getaway driver. The teenager’s cause of death was given as respiratory failure and gunshot injuries to the spine. Doris was arrested for the killing on September 2, 2014.

Doris and another man Lennox Wayne, called “Two Colours” were first tried for Harriram’s murder in 2017; that trial, however, ended in a hung jury. As such, a retrial was ordered.

Wayne is still awaiting a retrial for the offence. The Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions said that on several occasions in November 2020, Wayne indicated that he was desirous of pleading guilty to the lesser offence; he, however, changed his decision.

In the meantime, Wayne has filed a constitutional motion in which he is, among other things, asking for a  permanent stay of the murder charge against him. In the motion, Wayne is contending that his right to a fair trial within a reasonable time has been infringed due to the delay in his retrial.

Justice Navinrda Singh will rule on the motion on  May 6, 2021, at the Demerara High Court.