Murder convict Dhupaul Singh has failed in his bid to have his life sentence overturned. In a unanimous ruling delivered on Tuesday, the Guyana Court of Appeal affirmed the life sentence imposed on him for the September 2, 2014 murder of farmer Balkissoon (only name), but lowered his eligibility for parole from 25 to 20 years.
Following a trial in 2016, Singh was found guilty of the crime by a jury. Trial Judge Jo-Ann Barlow sentenced him to life with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
It was reported that the killing occurred at Helena Number Two Village, Mahaica, East Coast Demerara.
On the day in question, Singh and Balkissoon, called “Balky”, were involved in a heated argument over remarks hurled by Singh at the now dead man’s wife. The row escalated into a scuffle during which Singh chopped Balkissoon about his body with a cutlass.
Singh, through his lawyer, Mark Conway, later filed an appeal against his conviction and sentence.
Among other things, the convicted killer argued Justice Barlow erred in law in giving the jury the summation on provocation. The defence lawyer argued that his client was robbed of a conviction for manslaughter because the Judge’s summation to the jury was lacking.
Against this backdrop, Conway had asked the court to set aside his client’s murder conviction. In doing so, he relied on the case of Kubert George v The State, which was decided by the very Guyana Court of Appeal.
Conway highlighted that in that case, the court set aside the murder conviction and substituted a verdict of guilty of manslaughter, and instituted a prison sentence of 20 years. The lawyer had also argued that the sentence imposed by the Trial Judge did not reflect the principles outlined in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) case of Romeo da Costa Hall v The Queen in which it is outlined that full credit should be given for any time spent on remand.
During the hearing of the appeal, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions , Dionne McCammon submitted that the sentence imposed on the convict was duly served given the severity of the injuries the now dead man sustained, especially the fact that his head was almost severed.
She submitted that under the laws of Guyana, murder is punishable by the death penalty, and as such, Justice Barlow used her discretionary power to impose a life sentence in this case. Arguing that the sentence was not excessive, the Prosecutor noted that the convict would be given a chance after 25 years to be reintegrated into society.
McCammon submitted that the principles of sentencing, including retribution, deterrent, rehabilitation, and incapacitation, were considered in this case. This appeal was heard by the acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Justices of Appeal Dawn Gregory, SC, and Rishi Persaud.