Guyana’s laws allow for a magistrate to sentence an individual to a maximum of five years and, given that a prison year is equivalent to nine months, a criminal sentenced to five years would only spend 45 months in jail. But a peculiar trend has been creeping into Guyana’s courtrooms where, instead of sentencing criminals to five years, magistrates have been handing down 60-month sentences.

In the eyes of attorney-at-law Sanjeev Datadin, this constitutes a flagrant overstepping of the Summary Jurisdiction Act.

During an interview with Guyana Standard recently, the lawyer said there is no legal justification for magistrates issuing 60-month sentences when the law mandates five years.

Datadin said, “The law states that they can only give a maximum of five years. Magistrates have been taking that to mean that they are entitled to convert that five years to 60 months. But if the statute says you should sentence the person in years then you should sentence them in years. Magistrates have no authority to sentence someone to 60 months. When they sentence people for 60 months, it is unlawful and it is contrary to the Justices Protection Act too.”

The local media has reported numerous cases where magistrates have handed down a 60-month sentence instead of five years.

Just last year, Wayne Griffith, one of three men who was arrested and charged for a multimillion-dollar robbery at Princess Casino, was sentenced to 60 months in prison.

Further, in 2017, Fawad Hamid and Mark Douglas, who were caught with over 130 lbs of cannabis, were jailed for 60 months and fined $80.7M each.

Meanwhile, in 2015, Othello Duncan, a fish vendor of Meadow Bank, East Bank Demerara, was made to serve 60 months in prison after being found guilty of armed robbery.


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