Death sentence, life imprisonment for men who murdered phone card vendor

Dead: Danian Anthony Jagdeo

Criminal masterminds, Mark Dhuman and Abdul Andre Azimullah, were on Wednesday sentenced to death for the murder of phone card vendor, Danian Anthony Jagdeo, who was fatally shot during a robbery in 2017.

Their co-accused, Zahir Abdul and Shannon Batson, were sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 35 years.

The youngest accused, Satesh Budhram was only sentenced to 17 years imprisonment since he played a minor role in the crime.

The sentences were handed down by Justice Sandil Kissoon at the Berbice High Court; the judge told the court that the victim was a former teacher who influenced the lives of many.

It was also noted that the victim knew his killers, including Dhuman, who was his former student.

Last month, a 12-member jury found the five men guilty of murdering 35-year-old Jagdeo on February 8, 2017, during the course of a robbery at Adventure Village Corentyne Berbice.

According to the judge, the “heinous and unthinkable” crime was perpetrated by the accused collectively and such actions must be condemned in the strongest possible way.

“There is not a shred of remorse, regret or sympathy for the horror, ruin and destruction they have heaped upon this family and society. But for the grace of God, almost irretrievably, members of society must be free to go about their business and to conduct their affairs without fear of being robbed or killed,” the judge said while delivering his sentencing remarks.

During a sentencing hearing on Wednesday, the victim’s wife, Mary Jagdeo, who is a teacher, presented her victim impact statement in court. The woman said she and her husband met at the age of 17, quickly fell in love and subsequently got married.

“It was the beginning of our unique fairytale. The beginning of our long, happy, successful life together, or so we thought,” the mother of five said.

She recalled that “unforgettable dreadful day” when her husband’s life was snuffed out by armed bandits.

“We both left for work, our children left for school. My husband and I conversed as per normal, I can remember vividly; we made plans for the evening, including what meal we would sit and enjoy as a family, an evening that never came because of an inhumane act by five heartless, non-remorseful human beings, all of whom were known to him.

“My husband’s premature death has taken a toll on us psychologically, physically, financially and emotionally. As a single mother, a status I earned abruptly, I had to embrace the fact that he was shot and left to die like an animal. “I had to subsequently find out that I was pregnant while making funeral plans and I had to process that this unborn child would inevitably share no sacred moment with his dad,” the grieving widow said.

The woman told the court that over the last two years, she has suffered intense grief, depression and other social problems because she felt broken and lost.

“After those two years, I tried my all to be there for my kids and hide my pain and sickness. I struggle financially to maintain my family with a meagre salary; one that has to pay utility bills, territory education fees for my eldest son, transportation fees for them to go to school, and clothing among others.

“I am dealing with hiding my grief and being strong for my kids, and the numerous questions they ask every single day; questions that I can never give them answers to,” she said.

The widow asked the court to impose a harsh sentence on the five convicts to make them suffer as her husband did.

“No other family should be allowed to endure this, those involved should be made examples to others who might want to repeat similar or same.”

The State was represented by prosecutor Abigail Gibbs during the trial.

Attorneys-at-law Siand Dhurjon, Moti Singh, Ravindra Mohabir, Sasha Roberts and Surihya Sabsook were on record for the accused.

According to reports, on February 8, 2017, Jagdeo was at the time dropping off phone cards at a shop when a lone gunman pounced on him.

The gunman arrived on a motorcycle, entered the shop, pointed the gun toward Jagdeo and demanded cash. At the time of the incident, Jagdeo had a haversack which the gunman took before shooting him and escaping on his motorcycle.

The motorcycle was later found abandoned at Friendship village, further up the Corentyne, bearing a fake registration number.

A car was also impounded several days after the incident, which later led to the arrest of the five men.

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