2016 Bush Lot double murder: Life imprisonment for ‘Shazim’

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Nazamadeen Rafeek called ‘Shazim’ was on Wednesday sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after serving a minimum of 35 years for the 2016 Bush Lot, West Coast Berbice double murder.

Rafeek, 25, also formerly of Bush Lot, was sentenced by Justice Sandil Kissoon at the Berbice High Court. Earlier this month, Rafeek was arraigned for the offense of murder and pleaded not guilty. In the middle of his trial before a 12-member jury, Rafeek had a change of heart and pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

He admitted that between January 8 and 9, 2016, he unlawfully killed businessman Arthur Rajkumar, 81, and his reputed wife Diane Chamanlall, 44, by chopping them to death.

During his sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Rafeek said, “I’m very sorry for those people loss; I only went deh sir and lash Mr. Arthur one time. I ain’t kill no one.”

In his sentencing remarks, Justice Kissoon said that the words ‘brutal savagery, immeasurable cruelty and unspeakable agony,’ best describe the gravity of Rafeek’s criminal actions.

Justice Kissoon said that Rafeek’s plea was not motivated by remorse for his actions, but a mere attempt to save himself from the “gallows” if he was found guilty by a jury for the capital offence of murder.

The judge further said that Rafeek did not withdraw himself from the criminal enterprise on that fatal day in question, but has now come before the court to plead guilty to the lesser count with the expectation of “receiving a slap on the wrist.”

“I reject that as an attempt by you to mitigate your sentence. I also accept that as a further indication from you that you are without remorse or contrition. Your attempt is to simply obtain a sentence that is consistent to a slap on the wrist notwithstanding the gravity of your despicable act,” the judge told Rafeek.

In arriving at the sentence, the judge said he considered the brutal “butchery” of the victims along with the prevalence, nature and gravity of the case.

In the end, Justice Kissoon sentenced Rafeek to life imprisonment and he will be eligible for parole after serving the minimum term of 35 years.

State Prosecutor Abigail Gibbs had told the court that during the period in question, Rafeek and others smoked ‘ganja’ before committing the heinous crime. The gang broke into the couple’s house through a grill door; they ransacked the house and packed foodstuff and cigarettes while searching for money.

Initially, the bandits did not see anyone and had descended into an adjoining shop where they retrieved and drank stag beers.

Shortly afterwards, the couple exited their bedroom and confronted the bandits. They were chopped after demands for gold and money were not met. During the act, the police were alerted but the bandits escaped.

Gibbs told the court that Rafeek dropped his hat at the crime scene, which police were able to identify and arrested him later that day.

According to Gibbs, Rafeek was covered in so much of the victims’ blood that trails of blood were found in his yard and inside of his home.

Police also found the clothes Rafeek wore to commit the crime submerged in a bucket of water. Gibbs said the clothing tested positive for human blood.

Rafeek had disclosed that the mastermind of the crime was Rooplall Abrahim called ‘Vijay.’ He also admitted committing the crime with Madanpaul Gocoul called ‘Clown.’

Last year, Abrahim and Gocoul both pleaded guilty to manslaughter and are currently serving life imprisonment and a 25-year jail sentence, respectively.

Rafeek was represented by attorney Mursaline Bacchus.

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