Life imprisonment for ex-prison officer who brutally murdered wife

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Former Prison Officer Sheldon Prince was on Tuesday sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 30 years for the gruesome murder of his wife, who was fatally stabbed in the compound of the New Amsterdam Psychiatric Hospital in 2016.

On February 14, Sheldon Prince, formerly of Angoy’s Avenue, New Amsterdam, was arraigned before Justice Sandil Kissoon at the Berbice High Court.

He pleaded guilty to the capital offence of murder which alleged that on December 28, 2016, in the county of Berbice, he murdered Lonnette Prince.

The court was told that Sheldon, armed with a knife, barged into the compound of the New Amsterdam Psychiatric Hospital where Prince worked as a hairdresser and stabbed her numerous times.

At the time, the accused was a prison officer attached to the Mazaruni Penitentiary.

The State was represented by prosecutor Abigail Gibbs while Prince was represented by attorney-at-law Murseline Bacchus, S.C.

During Prince’s sentencing hearing on Tuesday, his probation report was read in court. It was noted that Prince’s father was abusive to his mother and they eventually separated. Prince told the probation officer that this caused him to become depressed and he developed mental health challenges.

The probation officer further told the court that Prince was affected both emotionally and psychologically by his parent’s separation and eventually left school at 16 years.

Prince, in the report, said that initially, his relationship with the victim was “one of love” but was later filled with turmoil noting that she was promiscuous and was unfaithful to him while he was away at work.

He further said that after they separated, he was denied access to his daughter by his wife, who became hostile toward him.  Prince said that his actions were not deliberate but that he was provoked by his wife’s infidelity and her promiscuous lifestyles during their marriage.

According to Prince, he was “embarrassed, humiliated, surprised and disappointed when he learnt of her promiscuity” when she had revealed this to him.

However, the victim’s parents said that during the couple’s marriage, their daughter had indicated to them, as well as her siblings, that she was being abused by Prince.

Consequently, the victim secured a protection order, which was granted on November 5, 2016.

The couple’s nine-year-old daughter was also interviewed as part of the probation report and it was related that she cries whenever she thinks of her mother; especially at nights when she goes to bed or watches cartoons.

She vividly recalled the last words spoken by her father via telephone, which was on the said morning of her mother’s death. According to the child, her father told her that “he was going away and she would not be seeing him back for a long time”.

Meanwhile, Prince told the court: “All I wanted to do was to be a father to my child,” as he explained that his wife’s parents were constantly interfering with his relationship.

He then broke down in tears and told the court that he was married at a young age and tried to give his daughter the love he never had while growing up.

In his sentencing remarks, Justice Kissoon said that domestic violence continues to “rampage” society. He further noted that a person who commits such crimes cannot look to the court for “clemency and mercy.”

According to Justice Kissoon, the murder was a “cold-blooded and premeditated” crime which was a “diabolical and murderous” act carried out by Prince, who fatally stabbed the victim 15 times with the brunt of the wounds being to the region of her heart.

Among other things, Justice Kissoon said that Prince’s plea was a “tactical manoeuvre” and no credit will be given to him.

Taking all the aforementioned into consideration and the need to deter like-minded offenders from committing the “abominable crime,” the Judge sentenced Prince to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after serving a minimum of 30 years.

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