Thirteen years after a Debe pundit, his family and a community were terrorized by armed men, two of the robbers were sentenced to eight years hard labour.
In passing sentence in the San Fernando First Assizes, Justice Gillian Lucky heard from pundit Chaitram Harrygobin, also called Ram, and the accused Keron Gulston and Jason Mitchell who cried as they reflected on that fateful day on December 8, 2006.
They pleaded guilty to five charges of robbery with aggravation arising out of the incident. Their accomplice Kevin Joseph was sentenced last year to seven years and three months after he pleaded guilty.
The men went to Harrygobin’s car rental business, which he operated by his Congo Village, Ramai Trace home, pretending to be customers.
They then said it was a robbery and at gun point held up his secretary, wife, mother and two children ages two and three years old. When the children began to scream, one of the men suggested that they put a pillow over their mouths.
Instead, they ordered the mother and grandmother to keep them quiet, or else they threatened to shoot the children. Harrygobin stumbled upon his family being robbed as he arrived home.
He ran back into his vehicle and as he was being chased by the robbers, Harrygobin raised an alarm through the community. The robbers threatened some of the villagers at gunpoint and robbed a villager of his car.
Officers Sgt Darwain Badree and Cpl Anil Boodlal were en route to execute a warrant when they encountered the commotion and eventually arrested the robbers.
As he recounted the ordeal, Harrygobin said his family went abroad for a while, he closed down his business and they moved out of the area.
His mother died not long after incident and to this day the pundit and his family still lives in fear. “It was 13 years ago but it feels like yesterday,” he said.
While he accepted the apologies of the accused men, he said, “The damage is already done…It was very traumatic for my family and myself.” In fact, he said, the entire village was affected.
In their plea in mitigations, attorneys Ian Brooks and Renuka Rambhajan said the men has changed their life. Apologising from the “bottom of his heart” Gulston said he was young and misled.
“After that I change my life. I will never hurt another human being in my life again,” said Gulston.
Asking the pundit for forgiveness, Mitchell said he was “totally sorry” for his actions. Making it clear that the court is not swayed by tears, the judge said the court “has to be cold” in order to be fair. While accepting that accused were genuinely remorseful, she said, “Sorry does not mean you don’t serve time.
Noting that prevalence of home invasions in society, she said a message has to be sent.
In his submissions, State attorney Trevor Jones said, “We say that this occurred in 2006. We are in 2019 and this story doesn’t sound like an old one.”
While the court can’t be blamed for this, he said, “Certainly the message that the court is sending needs to be sent louder because we still face this crisis today…”
Officer Badree and Boodlal were commended for their conduct on the day of the incident and throughout the matter.
Gulston was also sentenced to five years and three months in a separate matter in which he pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm and ammunition, and possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.
Reporter: Sascha Wilson