TWO men who were minors when they chopped their schoolmate to death before setting his body on fire in 2007 were yesterday sentenced to serve eight more years in prison custody before being released.
Even though Justice Gillian Lucky said she believed the appropriate sentence for the crime was 33 years’ hard labour, the sentence was drastically reduced given the guilty pleas entered by the men, as well as the 12-and-a-half years they had already spent behind bars since being arrested.
Last year, the two, Roshan Ramkissoon and Danny Seetahal, requested a maximum sentence indication from the court.
A maximum sentence indication is a legal process in which a judge informs an individual of the maximum sentence they would face should they choose to plead guilty.
In this instance, Justice Lucky indicated that the maximum sentence was 33 years’ imprisonment, with an automatic one-third deduction for the guilty plea. The men eventually pleaded guilty to the capital offence.
They were both charged with murdering 15-year-old Aleem Ali sometime between March 25 and 28, 2007. Ali’s body was found at Laurel Hill, Arouca, on March 28.
He was a form four pupil of Five Rivers Government Secondary School. Ramkissoon and Seetahal, who were both 17 years old at the time, were also fourth form pupils at the school.
According to the State’s case, Ramkissoon and Seetahal had been informed by a girl that she had been sexually assaulted by Ali, before they planned the attack and lured Ali to his death.
A third boy, Kerwin Wellington, was also charged with the crime, but was granted immunity by the State after he agreed to turn State witness and testify against the other two. But in the end, he was not required to do so since both Ramkissoon and Seetahal pleaded guilty.
In passing sentence, at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain, Justice Lucky said the murder was a gruesome one in which the victim begged for his life, but was instead tortured, before being brutally killed. The judge said far too often young people are resorting to violence to resolve issues.
“You need to stop taking things into your own hands. And you did not just take it into your own hands, you lured the deceased. The victim was bawling and begging for mercy because he couldn’t take it any more,” she told Ramkissoon.