Two men convicted of fatally stabbing a man during a robbery on January 20, 2017 were on Wednesday sentenced to life imprisonment by High Court Judge Sandil Kissoon.
Sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after 15 years are Akeem Haymer, called ‘Curry’, and Affiba Yenkana, called ‘Dugla’. Their trial for the murder of Leopold Street, Werk-en-Rust Georgetown mason 43-year-old Rawle Rodrigues had commenced at the Demerara High Court.
However, on Wednesday, the two-murder accused opted to plead guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter. As a result, Justice Kissoon directed the jury to return a not guilty verdict for both of them on the murder charge, and a guilty verdict on the lesser count.
Reports are that on January 20, 2017, Rodrigues was stabbed multiple times to his chest by three men at the route 32 minibus park in Georgetown. It was previously reported that the men had trailed Rodrigues from a nearby bar, where he was seen consuming alcohol.
Following their guilty pleas, there was a sentencing hearing. In a plea of mitigation on behalf of Yenkana, Attorney-at-law Rachael Bakker told the court that her client has “expressed profound remorse” for his actions.
Meanwhile, Haymer’s lawyer Lawrence Harris, in his address, said his client “made a mistake” for which he is very remorseful. “I would hope that the prison system would put something in place so that he could be properly rehabilitated,” the lawyer noted. Both Yenkana and Haymer appeared in court via Zoom.
Asked by Justice Kissoon if he had anything to say before sentence was passed, Yenkana expressed, “I am really sorry how this thing happen. Like I don’t know what more to say right now. I am really sorry about what the deceased’s family has to go through right now.
“I am sorry how things happen. This is the first time this happened, and it won’t happen again. I am begging the family for mercy. I am begging them to be lenient with me. I am begging the whole court to see with me. I didn’t waste the court’s time,” Haymer said.
The High Court Judge, in his sentencing remarks, highlighted that even though Yenkana and Haymer were previously convicted and sentenced to imprisonment on armed robbery and larceny charges, they have still elected to resort to a life of crime.
Importantly, he pointed out that the young men have demonstrated a reluctance and unwillingness to reform.
Notwithstanding this, the High Court Judge further pointed out that they have turned to a practice of crime, of preying upon citizens and committing robbery with violence. “This you have established as your chosen occupation,” Justice Kissoon said to the duo.
According to him, they committed the offence at a time when citizens were returning to their homes from a hard day of work.
The Judge added that it is regrettable the frequency and prevalence with which members of society are subjected to violent robberies within the city daily. He noted that murder committed during the course/furtherance of a robbery is among the offences that continue to attract the death penalty.
Given the prevalence of murders and robberies in society, he stressed, the sentence imposed by the court must be one of sufficient deterrent effect to contain those who may have like or similar intentions.
In the end, the two confessed killers were both sentenced to life.
Justice Kissoon had initially set their eligibility for parole at 20 years. However, after crediting them for time they spent in pre-trial custody it was reduced to 15 years.