Bond for man who admitted to killing coconut vendor over taunts of wife’s infidelity

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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A 56-year-old Curepe man who admitted to killing a coconut vendor, who taunted him about sleeping with his wife, by hitting him on the head with a brick at a bar in 2012, has been put on a bond by a High Court judge.

On Monday, Enal Gobin was ordered released forthwith by Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds who accepted a plea agreement entered into between the State and the defence on March 16.

Gobin, also called Corey, was allowed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter on the basis of provocation. He was indicted for the murder of Jagdeo Basdeo who died weeks after the attack. Gobin was initially charged with wounding with intent but that changed to murder when Basdeo died.

In sentencing Gobin, Ramsumair-Hinds said she could not ignore the nature of the provocation in the case.

“Some in society believe words aren’t sufficient to justify an unlawful killing. I do not suggest otherwise.” However, she said it must be understood the effect words can have.

She said the facts in the case had undertones of toxic masculinity seen played over and over in TT, although not the typical display of it.

“This one gave me trouble,” she admitted, acknowledging the toxic masculinity in TT’s culture and the support and condemnation for it in recent times.

As she referred to the facts, the judge explained Gobin knew of his wife’s infidelity, but he was at the bar with her and there was no “toxicity” or history of violence between them.

“In the face of history of infidelity, he was calmly socialising in a setting with his wife. It was the deceased who, with the wife sitting there, repeatedly provoked the accused by telling him he had sexual relations with his wife.”

She said she was in no way victim-blaming, but in this case the CCTV footage taken from the bar showed it did not start with an angry, offended, or upset Gobin.

“You saw it drawn out by the deceased. Those words could have and clearly did elicit a temporary and sudden loss of self-control… That is the effect of provocation.”

As a warning to Gobin and others, the judge suggested changing the colloquial expression of “man can’t take horn” to “jail eh make to ripe fig.”

“I think you have been punished adequately,” she told him before setting out the conditions of the bond she was placing him on.

“It was an unsophisticated attack.”

Gobin was put on a $50,000 bond to keep the peace for three years or serve a five year-jail term if the bond is breached.

He will be under the supervision of a probation officer for the three years and take part in anger management sessions.

Gobin will also return to court once a year, over the next three years on the anniversary of his sentencing, for the court to receive a status report.

After explaining the terms of the bond, the judge also told Gobin she did not view him as a threat to society and expressed hope that the court’s order helps him to reintegrate.

“I think the experience (in jail) would have changed you,” she said. She also mentioned his wife had died while he was incarcerated.

Gobin was also credited for taking over his family’s business at the early age of 11 when he was removed from the primary school system to take care of the family as the only living male.

“This would have disrupted his life,” the judge said as she observed that society often thrust responsibility on children too early in their lives.

While Gobin was not able to complete primary school, the judge said without a formal education and with his “business mind” at the age of 11, he took over the business which has thrived.

“He steps back into society having established a sound financial footing in life.”

It was the State’s case that Gobin and his wife were drinking at the Chosen Bar, at the corner of Jackson and McInroy Streets in Curepe on December 30, 2012, when Basdeo joined them.

The two men began to “ole talk” with Basdeo telling Gobin about “sleeping with his wife.”

Gobin told the man he was too disrespectful and Basdeo allegedly punched Gobin, who grabbed a hammer to hit Basdeo before being held back by his wife and his friends who were telling him to “cool it.”

Gobin walked away but turned back and hit Basdeo once with the brick before throwing it away.

An ambulance was called and Basdeo, who was unconscious, was taken to hospital where he was warded for 24 days before he died because of his head injury. At the St Joseph police station, Gobin admitted to hitting Basdeo on the head. He said Basdeo told him he used to sleep with his wife and when he asked him to leave, he refused.

CCTV footage of the incident at the bar, photographs, medical reports and a post-mortem report were submitted into evidence in March when Gobin pleaded guilty.

Basdeo’s son, Khemchand, in a victim impact statement, said his mother had left him and his father when he was a toddler and it was hard when his father died because “he was all I knew and was the financial provider for the household.”

He said that his grandmother, who he and his father lived with, died a year after his father and he was forced to work part-time to pay for his school supplies.

He also said of Gobin, “I still do not know how to feel about the man who took my dad away, so I do not know if I could forgive him.”

Gobin was represented by public defender Ravindra Rajah and Alima Alexis while prosecutors Danielle Thompson and Rhea Libert appeared for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.