Former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Captain Orwain Sandy was this morning sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after serving 20 years, for the March 18, 2017 unlawful killing of his reputed wife, Reona Payne. Sandy, who served in the GDF for 19 years, was the former Special Assistant to the Chief-of-Staff. It was last week Wednesday, July 29, 2020, that Sandy pleaded guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter.
He was initially indicted for murder by State Prosecutor Lisa Cave. This morning, Sandy, a father of four, formerly of Providence, East Bank Demerara, appeared via Zoom before Justice Sandil Kissoon for sentencing.
According to reports, the incident occurred between 10:15 and 10:45 hours near a Masjid at Alexander Village, Georgetown. Sources said that Sandy and Payne were in Payne’s Car when the two got into an argument during which Sandy whipped out his firearm and shot the woman 14 times, killing her instantly.
Sandy then drove himself to the Ruimveldt Police Station, where he reported the matter to the police and was taken into custody. Payne was a mother of three; she worked as a Travel Agent at the Muneshwers Travel Service for a number of years. Payne and Sandy were not married but were living together for about three years.
During today’s court hearing, the father of Payne’s children, Richard Bevany, as well as the children shared how the death of their loved one has impacted their lives. Bevany told the court that the death of the mother of his children has caused his children to lose focus in school. Payne’s daughter and son told the court that they miss their mother very much, and wish she was still here. The woman’s children expressed that since the death of their mother, their lives have been filled with sadness.
Sandy’s lawyer, Ravindra Mohabir told the court that on the day of the killing his client had a “sudden and temporary loss of self control due to provocation.” Mohabir related that on the day in question, Sandy asked Payne to call a man by the name of “Kwame” and demanded that she end the relationship she was having with him. As a result, Mohabir related that Payne threw his client’s gun out of the car window, and he became angry.
During his address to the court, Sandy said society is pondering what could have caused him, an educated normal youth to react violently. Sandy said that he is an ambassador of Guyana’s soil. He explained that this ordeal has increased his passion to advocate against domestic violence and intimate partner violence. That further, he added that ending the life of Payne, “his first love” has left a hole in his heart.
According to Sandy, he has disappointed himself, family and friends, the Chief-of-Staff and the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. He recounted that on the day of the killing he suffered a mental breakdown, and that after the killing, he was haunted by suicidal thoughts. Even though he is behind bars, Sandy promised that he will continue to serve his country by helping to bring about change in the prisons.
Moreover, Sandy urged young men who looked up to him to not let his actions deter their decisions in embarking on a military career which he described as fulfilling. He disclosed that at the time of the unfortunate act, he was reading for a Commonwealth Masters in Public Administration at the University of Guyana.
“I do understand the severity of my actions and I take full responsibility for my actions. I am pleading with you for a second opportunity into society so that I can ensure that men do not fall prey to domestic violence, intimate partner violence, depression and suicide. I am sorry,” a remorseful Sandy told the court.
Prosecutor Cave noted that while Sandy has accepted responsibility for his actions, the court needs to send a strong message to like-minded individuals that such acts against women will not be tolerated. Added to that, she reminded of the prevalence of domestic violence and that too many women are dying at the hands of their male partners. The Prosecutor urged the court to impose a sentence that will serve as a deterrent.
Justice Kissoon, in arriving at an appropriate sentence for Sandy, considered the mitigating and aggravating factors. The mitigating factors included the largely favourable report, his expression of remorse, and his commitment towards spreading awareness to domestic violence and related social ills. Among the aggravating factors, which the judge noted were overwhelming, were the use of a gun, and the number of times Payne was shot at close range.
Justice Kissoon told Sandy that his conduct that day did not reflect with the expectation of society or a member of the disciplined forces. In light of the foregoing, the judge imposed the life sentence on Sandy and ordered that he only becomes eligible for parole after serving a minimum of 20 years. Sandy broke down in tears at the announcement of the sentence.