Appeal Court reduces 83-year prison sentence for man who set wife afire

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KILLER: Delon Gordon

Twenty-eight-year-old Delon Gordon, also known as ‘Popcorn’ who was sentenced to 83 years in jail for throwing kerosene on his reputed wife, had his sentence reduced to 21 years following a ruling by the Court of Appeal.

Chief Justice Roxane George and Justices of Appeal Rishi Persaud and Dawn Gregory, who heard the appeal agreed that the 83-year sentence imposed on Gordon by Justice Navindra Singh was excessive and severe, having considered all the circumstances of the case.

As such, the court ordered that the time Gordon has served in jail from the time of his arrest in 2014 be deducted from the sentence.  As such, ‘Popcorn’ will spend the next 14-years behind bars.

It has been the State’s case that Gordon, on July 4, 2011, murdered Natasha Johnson, by setting her afire in their Better Hope, East Coast Demerara (ECD) home.

The court heard that Gordon set the house on fire with himself, Johnson, and their three children inside. Johnson was rescued by neighbours and rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital Cooperation (GPHC) where she later succumbed.

Dead: Natasha Johnson

Following the woman’s demise, a Post Mortem Examination (PME) conducted on her remains revealed that she had suffered from a dislocated nasogastric tube, brain haemorrhage and congested kidneys with heavy lungs that oozed a bloody liquid.

These injuries led to Johnson suffering from Adult Distress Respiratory Syndrome (ADRs), which was brought on as a result of trauma from the burns, eventually leading to her death.

Gordon was charged and then found guilty in October 2014 in the High Court before Justice Singh.

Right after his conviction, Gordon, through his lawyer Dexter Todd, filed an appeal against his sentence for which he was not eligible for parole until after serving 50 years.

Outlining the grounds for his appeal, Gordon contended that the sentence imposed by the trial judge was not only manifestly excessive but disproportionate and not in keeping with sentences handed down in similar cases from the Caribbean region.

He further argued that the jury’s guilty verdict was unreasonable and cannot be supported by the evidence adduced at the trial. In fact, the accused lawyer had challenged the testimony of the prosecution witness, fire investigator Gregory Wickham.

Todd in questioning the testimony of Wickham noted that the lighting conditions in the couple’s home and how he could have allegedly seen Gordon pouring out kerosene from a stove since another witness had testified that the area in which the couple lived did not have electricity.

Moreover, Todd maintained that there was no evidence to support that his client intentionally burnt the woman. This, he said, was one of the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case that Gordon’s lawyer, at the trial stage, failed to challenge.

Despite this backdrop, Justice George reminded Todd that another prosecution witness testified to hearing Johnson shouting, “Delon, how you could do this to me. I love you, and I don’t want you to go to jail.”

The Judge added that the witness testified to Johnson uttering these words while she ran out of the home with her body on fire. But Todd maintained that such a statement is not conclusive and can be interpreted in a number of ways.