Delon Gordon, 28, who torched his wife causing her death and was sentenced to 83 years in jail for her murder, had his sentence reduced to 21 years on Friday following a ruling by the Court of Appeal in Kingston, Georgetown. The court, comprising Chief Justice Roxane George and Justices of Appeal Rishi Persaud and Dawn Gregory agreed that the 83-year sentence imposed on Gordon by Justice Navindra Singh was excessive and severe having considered all the circumstances of the case.
As a consequence, the court only allowed Gordon to appeal against his sentence, which has now been reduced by 62 years. Time spent in custody from his conviction in 2014 was ordered to be deducted from the new sentence by the court. His murder conviction stands.
In October 2014, a jury found Johnson guilty of murdering his spouse, Natasha Johnson, by setting her afire in their Better Hope, East Coast Demerara home on July 4, 2011. According to reports, Gordon set the house on fire with Johnson, himself, and their three children inside. Johnson was burnt extensively and had to be taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital, where she later succumbed to her injuries.
A post mortem examination revealed that Johnson had suffered from a dislocated nasogastric tube, brain haemorrhage and congested kidneys with heavy lungs that oozed a bloody liquid. These injuries led to Johnson suffering from Adult Distress Respiratory Syndrome (ADRS), which was brought on as a result of trauma from the burns, eventually leading to her death.
Shortly after his conviction, Gordon, through his lawyer Dexter Todd, filed an appeal against his conviction and 83 years jail sentence for which he was not eligible for parole until after serving 50 years. Among other things, Todd argued that the sentence imposed by the trial judge was not only manifestly excessive but disproportionate and not in keeping with sentences handed down in similar cases from the Caribbean region.
During arguments, Todd had also argued that the jury’s guilty verdict was unreasonable and cannot be supported by the evidence adduced at the trial. That further, Todd challenged the evidence of prosecution witness, fire investigator Wickham. The lawyer had raised questions as it relates to the testimony of the lone eyewitness with regard to the lighting conditions in the couple’s home and how he could have allegedly seen Gordon pouring out kerosene from a stove since another witness had testified that the area in which the couple lived did not have electricity.
The lawyer contended that there was no evidence to support that his client intentionally burnt the woman. This, he said, was one of the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case that Gordon’s lawyer, at the trial stage, failed to challenge. On this point, Justice George reminded Todd that another prosecution witness testified to hearing Johnson shouting, “Delon, how you could do this to me. I love you, and I don’t want you to go to jail.”
The Judge added that the witness testified to Johnson uttering these words while she ran out of the home with her body on fire. But Todd maintained that such a statement is not conclusive and can be interpreted in a number of ways. For instance, Todd submitted that the utterances of Johnson do not mean that she was saying his client had intentionally burnt her.