The Court of Appeal has reserved its decision in a matter in which a Guyanese man, convicted of manslaughter, is appealing his 25-year sentence.
The case involving Teerath Persaud came before Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson and Justices of Appeal Andrew Burgess and Kaye Goodridge in the Court of Appeal yesterday.
Persaud and Christopher McCollin went on trial separately for the same offence and had both pleaded guilty to manslaughter before different High Court judges.
However, Persaud was sentenced to 25 years by Justice Maureen Crane-Scott, while McCollin got 16 years after appearing before Justice Randall Worrell.
McCollin is of Vineyard Tenantry, St Philip, while Persaud was residing at Blades Hill, St Philip at the time.
Anna Druizhinina died on November 8, 2008, one day after her 16th birthday. She was strangled to death after she was tied up in her Palmers Plantation home and left with a rope around her neck, while the two men combed the house.
They had entered the St Philip property to rob but found the girl at home.
Some of the grounds of appeal proferred by Ajamu Boardi, counsel for Persaud, were that the sentence was “manifestly excessive”, especially in light of his co-accused receiving a sentence which was nine years shorter.
Additionally, Boardi argued that the judge erred in law by determining that Persaud knew that what he and McCollin were doing were dangerous acts, and did nothing to help the victim until “the inevitable occurred”. However, the attorney said that these were not aggravating factors.
Boardi further contended that Persaud’s inactivity would have made him guilty of manslaughter, but could not have worsened the crime. He also took issue with the trial judge’s referral to his client as “more culpable” than McCollin.
He argued that Persaud was not even in the room when the girl died, but was told of her death later by McCollin.
It was also McCollin who had tied the girl to the top of the staircase with two cans under her feet.
Other grounds were that the trial judge erred in law by determining that Persaud displayed callousness after news of the girl’s death and that he did nothing when McCollin proposed to burn down the house with the girl’s body inside.
According to the defence lawyer, the facts showed that when McCollin informed him that the girl died, McCollin later asked him what he was “studying”. Persaud told his accomplice that he was “studying” the dead girl.
He later told the probation officer that he was sorry she died because she had never showed him “a bad face”.
In response, Crown Counsel Krystal Delaney argued that the disparity in sentencing was not a valid ground of appeal. She added that the trial judge could have taken into account the victim’s age, 16 years, and that she was a child.
The state attorney stressed that Justice Crane-Scott was correct in characterising certain aspects of the matter as aggravating factors.
Delaney further maintained that even if McCollin was fortunate in receiving a 16-year sentence, that did not automatically mean that the court should alter Persaud’s sentence, since it was not wrong in principle, nor was it excessive.