– attempts getaway
By Latoya Giles
Drama unfolded at the High Court yesterday afternoon as Kevin Verwayne, who was sentenced to 78 years imprisonment by Justice Navindra Singh, after being found guilty by a unanimous jury verdict for the murder of his reputed wife, attempted to jump over the rails of the court balcony as he was being escorted back to the lock-ups.
As he threw his right leg over the rails, Sergeant Wishart sprang into action, restraining Verwayne, who then began fighting him and other police officers. He was crying and incoherent and was eventually subdued and taken to the lock-ups without further incident.
Verwayne, 25, of Depot Dam Squatting Area, Pouderoyen, West Bank Demerara, was on trial from May 16, for the 2011 murder of his 20-year-old reputed wife, Farida Ramdeen called ‘Susie’.
The State’s case which was presented by Senior State Counsel Judith Gildharie-Mursalin was that Verwayne had taken Ramdeen in a taxi from their home at Pouderoyen to Gafoors at Houston, under the pretext that he was taking her to visit his aunt in Albouystown.
He walked her down the Access Road which was muddy and when she asked him where he was taking her, he cuffed her to her mouth and compelled her to “walk.” He took off his boots and caused her to take off her slippers.
He then told her, “Baby, all them things you been putting me through. All the time a telling yuh a gon kill yuh but yuh didn’t believe me. When I go to work you does have man in the house sexing you and I does work hard fuh give you all me money.”
Verwayne then hugged Ramdeen and jumped into the trench with her where he choked her until she became lifeless, and then hid her body under some cane trash and returned home. Verwayne’s cousin, Shenisa Rawlins called ‘Blacks’ who had introduced Ramdeen to Verwayne and whose home they visited on a daily basis, called him on Saturday March 5, 2011, enquiring about Ramdeen.
Verwayne told her that Ramdeen was at his aunt in Georgetown, as he had to work there the next day. He was employed as a garbage collector with Puran Bros Waste Disposal Services.
Later that night, Verwayne confided in an aunt, Esther Pyle, at Crane Housing Scheme. Pyle called Rawlins to her home and Verwayne confided to Rawlins that he had murdered Ramdeen and hid her body under trash in the trench at Houston.
He offered to take Rawlins to where the body was. Rawlins agreed to go with him to where the body was but instead she took him to the Vreed-en-Hoop Police Station by taxi where he told Corporal Lynette Phillips who was on duty that he had killed Ramdeen and left her body in the trench at Houston.
Corporal Phillips contacted the ranks at Ruimveldt Police Station who had jurisdiction over Houston, and Verwayne and Rawlins were picked up from Vreed-en-Hoop. Verwayne directed the police, including Corporal Herbert Henry, to the area where he had left the body. It was almost midnight and pitch black. However, Verwayne retrieved his boots and Rawlins recognized the pair of slippers that she had bought for Ramdeen stuck in the mud. Ramdeen’s body was not found that night.
The next morning, Corporal Henry and a party of police officers and Rawlins, along with Ramdeen’s brother, Shawn Williams, returned to Houston where Ramdeen’s body was found and fished out of the trench. Photographs of that scene, taken by Corporal Linden Forbes Sampson were admitted as exhibits at the trial. Forensic Pathologist, Dr. Nehaul Singh performed an autopsy on Ramdeen’s body and testified that she died from (asphyxiation) lack of oxygen due to compression injuries to the neck caused by manual strangulation and drowning. He also found that Ramdeen had sustained blunt trauma to her head, eyes, mouth and chest.
Following his arrest, Verwayne also gave a written caution statement to Corporal Henry which was witnessed by Sergeant Bowman, and in which he detailed how and why he had murdered Ramdeen. He also took Sergeant Bowman to his home where he handed over the red jersey and brown pants he was wearing at the time he killed Ramdeen. These were admitted as exhibits at the trial.
Following the closure of the State’s case, Verwayne, who was represented by Attorney-at-Law, Melvyn Duke, opted to remain silent when called upon to lead a defence if he so desired. Through cross-examination of the State’s witnesses, including Rawlins, the defence raised the issue that one ‘Sherwin’ had sexually assaulted Ramdeen two weeks prior to her death and that he was her killer.
Following a two-hour summing up of the evidence yesterday by Justice Singh, the jury, comprising nine women and three men, returned the unanimous verdict of guilty. Asked whether he had anything to say prior to sentencing, Verwayne said “No further comments at this time.”
In his plea of mitigation, Defence Counsel asked the court for clemency and leniency in sentencing and to consider Verwayne’s age, that he had no counsel in the Magistrate’s Court and was a man of meagre means who had shown respect for the court throughout the trial.
But the Prosecutor asked the Court to consider that there were no mitigating factors and that his intention to kill her was clearly evident from the fact that he took her to that location by taxi and that was a deliberate, unprovoked, unjustified, planned killing of this young woman in the prime of her life.
“Resorting to this kind of brutality and violence is never the solution to any problem, but this is so prevalent in our society today. This young woman, who from the evidence appeared to have been “flighty,” was led like a sheep to the slaughter by Verwayne, a man she obviously trusted, to her death,” the Prosecutor said.
In imposing sentence on Verwayne, Justice Singh told him that he does not implement the death penalty for the offence of murder; the starting point was 60 years imprisonment.
“Having regard to the fact that this was a premeditated act, meaning you planned it, I will add another 10 years to the 60. Further, I have considered that Ramdeen suffered and died a horrible death. One of the most horrible ways a person can die is by drowning and for your cruelty in this regard, I will add another five years.
“Because it is a crime of domestic violence, which is prevalent in Guyana, I will add another six years. For the time served in prison while on remand, I will deduct that three years. There are no mitigating factors in this case and the jury having found you guilty, you have chosen not to say anything. You are hereby sentenced to 78 years imprisonment.”
Verwayne appeared calm as he was handcuffed and led from the dock out of the courtroom and onto the corridor where he then began crying and attempted to jump over the rails.
Ramdeen’s elderly grandmother, Gladys Ramnarine, who was present in court throughout the trial, said she was “grateful to God that justice was done”. She said Ramdeen had lost her parents at a tender age and she grew up with her.