2 jailed for robbing pundit 13 years ago

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

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