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Five years jail for fiery death

Published: 
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Nizam Mohammed left, is escorted from the San Fernando High Court after he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for murder. Mohammed will only serve five years as he has spent the last ten years awaiting trial. PICTURE RISHI RAGOONATH

Doubles vendor Nizam Mohammed will spend the next five years in jail for killing a man by setting him on fire.

Mohammed was charged with murder, but he was found guilty on March 28 to the lesser offence of manslaughter on the basis of provocation. Yesterday, Justice Maria Wilson sentenced him to 15 years in prison but the ten years he spent in custody awaiting trial was subtracted.

Mohammed 45, his wife, Putitia and former worker, Timothy Sammy, were jointly charged with the 2008 murder of Stephen Joshua, also called Jumbo.

The incident occurred at the couple’s Cipero Road, Friendship Village, San Fernando home on May 3, 2008, during an altercation.

Following a trial in the San Fernando Third Criminal Court, Putitia, 39, and Sammy were both found not guilty while Mohammed was found guilty on the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Mohammed did not give evidence during the trial but his defence was provocation and self-defence.

He claimed Joshua was always harassing him. On the day of the incident, according to the State’s case, the altercation began when Joshua entered Mohammed’s home and the argument continued outside.

Putitia called the police for help. Eyewitnesses testified that they saw Mohammed cuff Joshua repeatedly and attempt to wrap an electrical cord around Joshua’s neck.

Joshua fell into a drain. Mohammed picked up a container of gasoline, poured the contents on Joshua and set him on fire with a lighter. The victim died ten days later at the San Fernando General Hospital. An autopsy revealed that Joshua was burnt to death.

In passing sentence, the judge said Joshua’s wife, in her victim impact statement, said she has not yet recovered from her husband’s death. The wife said Joshua’s death was gruesome, slow and painful and affected her mentally, physically and financially.

Although Mohammed was provoked, the judge said a custodial sentence was appropriate because a life had been lost. The judge starting point was 24 years in jail but it was reduced it to 21 years after she took into consideration the prisoner’s age, he has three children, no previous convictions, among other mitigating factors things.

Wilson shaved off another six years because he had indicated since 2016 his willingness to plead guilty to manslaughter. Mohammed’s wife Putitia and three children—who are still in school— were among several relatives in court. Mohammed was represented by Israel Khan SC and attorney Alima Alexis while the case was prosecuted by state attorney Trevor Jones.

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