Life sentence for man convicted of murdering money changer

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Philemon Budhoo was sentenced to life

Philemon Budhoo, also called “Kevin”, 22, of Number 63 Village, Corentyne, who was convicted of murder, was given a life sentence by Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry for killing a money changer at the Number 63 Beach four years ago.

Justice Sewnarine-Beharry also ordered that he will not be eligible for parole until after serving 50 years.

Budhoo was earlier this month found guilty of killing Muhamamed Fizal Mahmood Baksh Munir, 47, also called “Sugar Cake”, between December 21 and December 24, 2015 at the Number 63 Beach, Corentyne.

Budhoo was waiting on a probation report before being sentenced.

That probation report was presented to the court on Thursday. The report referred to Budhoo as being a quiet person both in the community in which he lived and also in prison.

According to the probation report, Budhoo denied having any friendship with the deceased, but explained that he only knew him by seeing him mostly at the market where they both worked.

However, contrary to that, the wife of the deceased indicated that her husband often spoke about the accused and had purchased perfume from him for her on many occasions.

Further, the accused reportedly made several telephone calls to her husband prior to his demise in relation to a monetary transaction.

The report also said that Dudhoo claimed that he was a businessman who retailed items outside of the Corriverton market and had been doing the business for six months; however, businesspersons said he had only been there for six weeks and operated next to where the now dead money changer plied his trade.

Justice Sewnarine-Beharry before handing down the sentence said the court took into account the saving nature of the crime.

She related that Budhoo had lured Munir into believing that he had a relative at Number 63 Village who had a large quantity of foreign currency to change and hired a taxi and drove to the Number 63 Beach where he showed Munir a house and told him that it was only accessible from the front and got out of the car and lashed him while they were walking.

When Munir fell, Budhoo hit him two more times to the head and removed the money he had in his pockets, before leaving him to die. He then booked a flight and went to Trinidad.

The Judge said that the penalty must serve to send a strong warning to anyone who might be thinking along those lines. She said the court took into consideration the fact that Budhoo returned from Trinidad when the Police said he was wanted in connection with murder.

She told Budhoo that he has made a wife suffer for several years because of his act. During the trial, the wife of the dead money changer told the court that he left for work as usual. She said he left home with both local and foreign currency.

Taxi owner Farida Hussain told the court that on the day in question, Budhoo rented a car from her at about 08:30h that morning and returned about 10:30h. She said he should have paid $5000 but since the car was returned the same day, she only charged him $3000.

Rohan Karim told the court that he was working at the taxi service at the time. He said when Budhoo returned with the car, he appeared to be nervous.

He also told the court that the man had a stack of money which was about six inched thick. The money, he said, was in both local and foreign currency.

Karim said Bhodoo asked him for a plastic bag and placed the money into it and then stashed it in his crotch. He said the man hurriedly left the taxi service.

Budhoo had given investigators a caution statement, in which he admitted to taking Baksh to the Number 63 Beach and killing him, before taking $600,000 from him. He also claimed to have banked some of the loot.

However, during the trial, he said he did not commit the act and pointed to the fact that he was in Trinidad when he was told that the Police were looking for him for a murder and he still came back to Guyana where he was arrested.

In closing the defence’s case, Attorney Arudranauth Gossai noted that the prosecution failed to produce evidence that any check was made to the phone found on the body for calls made. There were also no evidence that a check was made with the bank about the $488,000 that was allegedly banked by Budhoo. He argued that the prosecution did not even produce a bank slip.

He said his client was in Trinidad and could have stayed there, but chose to return to Guyana because he knows he is innocent.

The dead man’s wife, Jagwantie Munir, told this media group that she was satisfied with the sentencing. (Andrew Carmichael)

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