A High Court judge on Tuesday sentenced four men to a total of 54 years in jail for murdering a scrap iron dealer who was robbed and beaten “mercilessly” almost nine years ago.
Lauren Aguillera, 43; Shawn Ballai, 35; Evans Ballai, 26; and Richie Ayow, 26, pleaded guilty last July to murder on the basis of the felony murder rule.
They gave confession statements to the police describing their involvement in the murder of Robert “Metal Man” Ramnath.
Ramnath, 51, was found dead near a pumping jack in Erin on August 10, 2006.
A post mortem found Ramnath sustained a massive crush injury to the head, extensive fractures to the skull and jaw bone, six lacerations and abrasions to the face.
The four admitted that they had hatched a plan to rob Ramnath. The prosecution’s case led in the San Fernando First Criminal Court was that Aguillera called Ramnath, telling him that they had copper to sell.
Ramnath met the four men who took him to a bushy area to get the copper.
When they got there in Ramnath’s car, however, the men robbed him.
Describing the killing as callous, Justice Hayden St Clair-Douglas said gratuitous violence was meted out to Ramnath who was beaten “mercilessly” even though he handed over his money and begged for his life. His body was then thrown down a slope.
The men left in Ramnath’s car which they crashed and then went to Point Fortin to get something to eat and drink.
They used varying degrees of violence against Ramnath, but the judge found that Aguillera was the moving force behind the robbery and the most aggressive in the beating.
The probation officer’s and bio-social reports, the judge said, found that the prisoners came from either broken or single parent homes and had limited education.
Aguillera and Shawn had previous convictions.
If the matter went to trial and they were found guilty, the judge said, 30 years would have been an appropriate sentence.
The judge, however, deducted 25 per cent from that sentence because of their guilty plea and also the eight years and six months that they were in custody awaiting trial.
He also deducted a further two years from Ayow’s sentence because of his age at the time of the offence, his previous good character and the limited role he played in the killing.
Ayow was sentenced to 12 years while his co-accused were each sentenced to 14 years hard labour.
Aguillera was represented by lawyers Nigel Pilgrim and Giselle Landeau-Birmingham.
Shawn’s lawyers were Rekha Ramjit and Marissa Bubb, while Evans Ballai was represented by Cedric Neptune and Bubb. Ayow was represented by Beecham Maharaj.