8 years’ jail for man who killed shopkeeper when he was 16

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A 24-year-old man who had murdered a woman when he was a 16-year-old juvenile was on Thursday jailed for eight years by Justice Jo-Ann Barlow presiding in the Essequibo High Court.

For legal reasons, the name, address, photograph and other particulars of the man cannot be published because he had been charged as a juvenile.

Upon his arraignment last month before Justice Barlow, he opted to plead guilty to the capital offence, admitting that he had murdered Bibi Sheniza Khan-Bhola in the course or furtherance of a robbery. The incident had taken place at Rock Creek in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) in 2014.

Following his guilty plea, the offender, who was represented by Attorney-at-Law L N Dindayal, had been further remanded to prison to await sentencing, which had been put off to Wednesday, December 7. Senior State Counsel Tiffini Lyken had presented the prosecution’s case.

In keeping with the Juvenile Justice Act, Justice Barlow sentenced the young man to serve a minimum of eight years in jail, during which the Guyana Prison Service (GPS) must cause him to be exposed to behaviour-modification programmes and counselling sessions commencing from next month.

She further ordered the GPS to ensure that he enrolls in academic studies tailored to his needs and abilities, and in courses in carpentry and masonry, all of which must begin in January.

According to the Judge’s order, the GPS must keep records of the offender’s attendance, participation, and performance in the programmes. Also, the GPS has to organise and facilitate half-yearly assessments of the offender by a probation officer. These assessments will be reviewed every two years, commencing in October 2024, when the offender would be brought before Justice Barlow or another Judge assigned to the case.

Upon the court being satisfied that he is ready for reintegration into society, the court shall order his release from custody on conditions that the court at the time of release deems fit.
Khan-Bhola, a 34-year-old mother of two, of La Parfaite Harmonie, West Bank Demerara (WBD), had been found stabbed to death in her shop at Rock Creek, Cuyuni River. On the day prior to her demise, she had had a heated argument with two men over a pump she had given them for mining.

Police Headquarters had said that the offender was one of the two men who had been staying with the woman around the time she had been brutally murdered. He and the other man had been employed by Khan-Bhola.

It is alleged that the men hatched a plan to kill her after she had fired them and wanted to take back her pump. According to reports, Khan-Bhola had given them the pump with the expectation that they would pay her for it. However, things turned sour when the men took the pump to another location without giving her money. The offender was arrested in December 2019 after returning from Suriname.