A jilted husband and his friend, who solicited and contracted a hitman to murder his ex-wife and her new lover, a little over 13 years ago, have appealed their murder convictions.
Presenting submissions before Appellate Judges Alice Yorke-Soo Hon, Mark Mohammed and Prakash Moosai at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain yesterday, lawyers representing Basdeo “Bas” Ramlochan and Siewkumar “Bobby” Chanka-Persad claimed that the High Court Judge, who presided over their case, made several errors when he summarised the facts and legal issues to the jury, that eventually convicted them in 2017.
Attorney Jagdeo Singh, who led the duo’s legal team, claimed that Justice Malcolm Holdip failed to properly direct the jury on the fact that they had clean criminal records before being charged. He also contended that Holdip did not inform the jury they should assess the evidence against each man separately.
Singh also took issue with Holdip’s directions over a statement given by Chanka-Persad in which he allegedly confessed. Singh claimed that Holdip failed to explain to the jury that they could not consider where Chanka-Persad, who also testified in his defence, alleged implicated his co-accused.
Responding to Singh, attorney Travers Sinanan, who led the team for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), admitted that Holdip’s summation of the case was not error-free.
“There is no perfect summation,” Sinanan said, as he called upon the appeal panel to consider the “totality” of the evidence in the case as done by Holdip.
Sinanan also claimed that Holdip’s errors were minor and would not have led the jury to arrive at a perverse verdict based on the evidence.
Ramlochan’s estranged wife Sunita “Michelle” Ramlochan, 29, and her common-law husband Rahim “Bam” Abraham were murdered at her father’s home at Kuldip Trace, St John’s Village, Avocat, on October 15, 2006.
The couple and Sunita’s 11-year-old daughter, who is Ramlogan’s child, had just returned home from a visit to the Divali Nagar site when they were attacked and shot several times.
The State’s case was not that Ramlochan and Chanka-Persad pulled the trigger, but that they sought out and hired a hitman to do it.
In addition to Chanka-Persad’s statement, State prosecutors also led evidence from a security guard who claimed that Ramlochan approached him on six occasions between 2004 and 2006 to help him, someone, carry out the murders.
Another State witness claimed that Ramlochan told him that he had marital problems and that he paid a hitman $90,000 to kill her but he did not perform the task.
After hearing the submissions, the appeal panel reserved their judgement.
Ramlochan is also being represented by Renuka Rambhajan.
Reporter: Derek Achong