The Court of Appeal has reduced a life sentence imposed on Deosaran Bisnauth back in 2017 for the unlawful killing of Robert Mangal, which occurred on July 16, 2013.
The Appellate Court bench, which comprised Chancellor of the Judiciary Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Justices of Appeal Dawn Gregory and Rishi Persaud on Monday reduced Bisnauth’s sentence, replacing it with a 12-year prison term instead.
In upholding the sentence, the three Justices held that the life imprisonment imposed by High Court Judge Navindra Singh was too excessive and severe, having considered all the circumstances of the case.
Known by the alias “Strokes Mouth,” Bisnauth had moved to the Appeal Court, arguing that the trial judge made a number of errors in law, which effectively renders his conviction and sentence unsafe, and as such, it should be set aside.
According to reports, on July 6, 2013, at Enmore, East Coast Demerara (ECD), Bisnauth and Mangal, called “Trevor,” were imbibing alcohol at a shop when a fight broke out between them.
During the trial, an eyewitness had said that he saw when Bisnauth hit Mangal thrice with a piece of wood that was almost four feet in length. Mangal later fell face down, the witness added.
Bisnauth, on the other hand, had claimed that he acted in self-defense after Mangal charged him with a rum bottle. But State prosecutors had dismissed Bisnauth’s claim and maintained that he was, in fact, the aggressor. The prosecutor submitted that Bisnauth attacked Mangal, whose back was turned.
Government Pathologist Dr. Nehaul Singh had given his cause of death as cerebral haemorrhage due to blunt perineal trauma to the head. Another doctor had testified that the injuries Mangal sustained were life-threatening. A total of 15 witnesses testified during this trial at the High Court in Demerara.
Bisnauth was initially indicted for Mangal’s murder by State prosecutors. However, the jury returned an 11-1 guilty verdict in favour of the lesser offense of manslaughter. At the time of the killing, Bisnauth was only 16.
“We are of the view that the sentence shouldn’t have been life imprisonment in the circumstances being indeterminate, and it is not a worst-case scenario,” Cummings-Edwards explained.
As a consequence, the Chancellor reduced the life sentence to 12 years. She ordered that the time spent on pre-trial custody should be deducted from the 12 years.
The Chancellor noted that if there is time remaining on the sentence, the principle of review for the trial judge or chief justice will apply, given the circumstances of the case. His manslaughter conviction stands.