Taxi driver pleads guilty to killing Lusignan hairdresser

L-R: Melroy Doris and Ashmini Harriram
L-R: Melroy Doris and Ashmini Harriram

Melroy Doris, the taxi driver, who is charged with the July 10, 2014 murder of 19-year-old Lusignan, East Coast Demerara cosmetologist, Ashmini Harriram has pleaded guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter.

The confessed killer was arraigned Thursday before Justice Brassington Reynolds at the Demerara High Court. State Prosecutor Tyra Bakker initially indicted him for the capital offence murder.

Following the guilty plea, Doris, who was represented by Stanley Moore, SC, was further remanded to prison until March 25, 2021, when he will be sentenced after the presentation of a probation report. The prosecutor told the court that Doris was arrested for the murder of September 2, 2014.

Prosecutor Bakker told the court that on the day in question, Harriram, also known as “Monisha Harriam” and her cousin were walking along the Lusignan Public Road when they noticed a burgundy Toyota 212 motorcar bearing registration number PRR 8370 which was parked along the said road. The Prosecutor disclosed that a few minutes later, the teenager was shot to her head and the car drove off.

According to Bakker, when Doris was arrested he gave a caution statement in which he admitted that he was the getaway driver. A post mortem examination revealed that Harriram died as a result of respiratory failure and gunshot injuries to the spine.

Meanwhile, Lennox Wayne, who was jointly charged along with Doris for the teen’s murder is still awaiting trial for the offence.

According to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Wayne, also known as, “Two Colours”, in November 2020, had indicated to the State that he wanted to plead guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter. The murder accused, however, changed his decision. Reports are that he was not pleased with the prison term being offered by the court.

Wayne was first charged with the murder in 2014 and was remanded to prison. His lawyers- Nigel Hughes and Ronald Daniels- have since filed a constitutional motion asking for a permanent stay of the murder proceedings against their client. Among other things, Wayne is also suing the State for more than $100,000 in damages for a breach of his fundamental rights to a fair trial within a reasonable time.

According to court documents seen by this publication, Wayne deposes that he was first tried for the offence in 2017 and that trial ended in a hung jury. Accordingly, he stated that the trial judge ordered a retrial at the next practicable sitting of the Demerara Criminal Assizes. The murder accused said that, four years later, he is yet to be brought before a judge and jury.

Wayne pointed out that despite his name being listed on the Demerara Criminal Assizes for retrial in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021, his case has not been called. In the circumstances, he is asking the High Court to admit him to bail pending the hearing and determination of the constitutional proceedings.

He is also seeking a declaration that his fundamental right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time as guaranteed under Article 144 of the Constitution of Guyana has been breached as a result of the lengthy delay in his retrial. The motion comes up for hearing before Justice Navindra Singh on March 23, 2021, at the High Court in Demerara.