The Guyana Court of Appeal on Monday affirmed the conviction and 20-year sentence imposed on Joshua Persaud and Raphael Morrison for the June 03, 2013 murder of 18-year-old Marlon Ramcharran. Following a High Court trial in 2014, Persaud, 28, and Morrison, 26, were found guilty of the offence by a 12-person jury. As a consequence, they were each sentenced to serve 20 years’ imprisonment by Justice Diana Insanally.
According to reports, while armed with a cutlass and pieces of wood, Persaud and Morrison inflicted several wounds on Ramcharran of Tain New Housing Scheme, Corentyne, Berbice. Reports are that the men were at ‘Dusk Till Dawn’ Nightclub when an argument broke out between them. Ramcharran’s cause of death was given as shock and haemorrhage resulting from multiple incised wounds. Shortly after, the duo appealed their conviction and sentence. They had asked the Appeal Court to set aside and/ or reverse the decision of the High Court. Alternately, they had asked that if their conviction was affirmed, the court should order their immediate release from prison given that the appeal was heard almost six years after it was filed, and eight years after they were charged.
They cited Article 144 of the Constitution which states that every person is entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time. They argued that the delay in the hearing of their appeal amounts to a breach of their constitutional rights. Persaud was represented by Attorney-at-Law Murseline Bacchus, while Attorney-at-Law Kim Kyte-Thomas appeared on behalf of Morrison. In dismissing the appeal, Chancellor of the Judiciary Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards rejected arguments by the convicts that there were issues with the trial judge’s summing up as it relates to direction and guidance on how the jury must treat the identification evidence given by the prosecution’s main witnesses.
While the Chancellor agreed that the appeal ground of fair trial within a reasonable time “has some merit”, she noted that counsel for the convicts failed to proffer arguments to suggest that the delay was an abuse of the court process. According to Justice Cummings-Edwards, this delay is faced by all other appellants in light of the case backlog faced by the judiciary. The Court of Appeal disagreed with the convicts’ contention that the 20-year sentence was manifestly excessive. In the end, the Appeal Court reduced their sentence to reflect the time already spent in pre-trial custody. In doing so, the court relied on the CCJ case of Romeo Da Costa Hall vs The Queen in which it was held that full credit should be granted for the time an accused person spent in pre-trial custody.
The court further ordered that the sentence will take effect from the date of conviction.