Jason Collymore

Police officers view the car in which Jason Collymore (inset) was killed by  while plying his car in Princes Town

A small business owner was yesterday sentenced for the murder of a taxi driver, Jason Collymore, who was shot in the head during a robbery 12 years ago.

Kelechi Seon, 36 of Moruga, pleaded guilty to murder felony. This is where a person is killed during the commission of an offence including robbery. A term of imprisonment, rather than the death sentence, is imposed.

Collymore, 29 of Princes Town died from a gunshot wound to his head.

The matter was heard before Justice Kathy Ann Waterman Latchoo who said that when such a crime occurs, the entire country suffers.

Information agreed between State attorneys Danielle Thompson and Katrisha Ambrose and defence attorney Renuka Rambhajan stated that it was on November 20 2007, Collymore picked up a couple and Seon and another man while on the San Fernando taxi stand in Princes Town.

As he drove the Nissan B15 car in the vicinity of Ste Madeleine, Seon who was in the front seat, pulled out a gun and pointed it at Collymore’s waist and asked for money. Collymore handed over his cash.

Seon then told the other man to take the couple’s phone but the woman did not hand over her electronic device.

Collymore was ordered to drive into a road where the couple exited and ran. The female saw the man who was in the backseat try to pull Collymore out of the car and saw the vehicle drove off. She then heard a gunshot about ten seconds later. Her companion also saw Collymore being beaten by the second man.

The couple found a taxi and went to the Mon Repos police station where they made a report.

Another witness, Richard Guichard, saw Collymore’s car crash into a wall along Corinth Road, around 8 o’clock that night and saw two men flee. Guichard went to the vehicle where he saw Collymore with blood dripping from his left temple. His foot was on the accelerator and the engine was revving.

Officers arrived on the scene.

Workable fingerprints were later taken from the car and one matched Seon’s right forefinger.

On March 25 2008, Seon went to the homicide southern office with his mother. He was told he was a suspect in Collymore’s murder and replied, “Wow.”

Later that day, when interviewed by the police, Seon said that he was not working and decided to rob a taxi driver. He told the police that he held up the driver who gave him money. He also said that the driver suddenly drove off while he was in the car and there was a struggle between them. The driver, he said, fought him for his gun which went off and the car crashed. It was in giving a statement to the police the next day that Seon said a second person was also involved.

In mitigating on his behalf yesterday, defence attorney Renuka Rambhajan said her client was raised in a single parent home with his mother and dropped out of school by form two. She said he later opened a car wash but the failed business created debt for him and led to the robbery.

Seon offered an apology saying, “My intention was never to kill no one. I accept what I do. The purpose was to rob. Sorry for all the wrongs I do.” There were two members of Collymore’s family in court including his mother who in her victim impact statement described her son as a recipient of the President gold medal for his service in the Cadet Force. She also said that he repaired computers, had attended secondary school and the San Fernando Technical Institute and was working hard earning a living in the family’s taxi service business to help his family and yougnger siblings. She said 12 years were taken from her and could not be replaced.

The judge said it was a ghastly crime and that on that night back in 2007, the valuables had already been taken from Collymore who had no weapon. She said a young promising life was stolen. Waterman Lathcoo said that when such crimes occur, all suffer from the effects of it and explained that this was the reason for documents stating the State versus the accused. “All of us are lessened, reduced, minimized. All of us suffer from these crimes.”

In passing sentence, Waterman Latchoo started with 30 years. She then considered the aggravating factors of the offence which included that an illegal firearm was used, there was a degree of planning and there were two passengers in the car, that Collymore was shot and killed after violence, the seriousness and prevalence of the offence and the impact on Collymore’s family in particular his mother. There were no mitigating factors as it pertained to the offence nor were there aggravating factors as it related to Seon, the judge said.

As it pertained to mitigating factors in relation to him, she said that he had shown remorse, co-operated with the police and had no previous conviction. She also considered his age at the time.

The 30 year sentence was reduced to 20 years as a one-third discount was given for Seon’s guilty plea. Waterman Latchoo explained that this discount is given as witnesses and family members are spared having to relive the ordeal or be cross examined. She also said that a guilty plea saves the judicial system time and cost.

Three and half years was also taken out for Seon’s good character before the crime, his remorse, co-operation with the police and his age of 24 years at the time.

Seon was sentenced to 16 years and six months hard labour.

He was already in custody for the past 11 years, seven month and 25 days and, by law, this is to be deducted.

Waterman Latchoo told him that when he is released in the coming years, he should never find himself even before the traffic court.