From death row to freedom for man convicted of 1986 murder

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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After almost four decades in prison, a man convicted of a 1986 murder has been released.

Glenroy Francis tasted freedom February 29 when Justice Gillian Scotland resentenced him to 32 years and three months for the murder of Ramesh Harrilal on July 19, 1986, in Mt Lambert.

“The prisoner, Glenroy Francis is to be released forthwith,” was the judge’s order.

However, he will have to report to the probation department for supervision for three years.

Scotland’s order was in keeping with another order by Justice Ricky Rahim in April 2023 that those death-row prisoners who had their sentences commuted to life were entitled to be resentenced. This was in keeping with a Privy Council ruling on commuted life sentences for murder convicts in the case of Naresh Boodram.

A similar resentencing exercise took place on Friday by Justice Geoffrey Henderson in the case of nine of the ten men convicted of the murder of Dole Chadee’s brother, Thackoor Boodram, in 1997. After applying sentences ranging from 33-30 years, eight of the nine men were released from prison late Friday night. The ninth has to be resentenced for another murder.

Henderson was part of the two-judge committee – Rahim in the civil division and Henderson in the criminal division – that in April 2023 selected those former death-row inmates who would benefit from the Naresh Boodram ruling. Rahim declared that the imposition of life imprisonment was unconstitutional and unlawful and the cases were docketed to various judges in the criminal division for resentencing.

Francis and two others – Neville Glaude and Keith George – were convicted of Harrilal’s murder on November 30, 1990.

The three went to the man’s home to rob him of his gun and money. He fought back after they accessed his shotgun but was stabbed multiple times by Francis and Glaude. His son was slashed in the face when he tried to help his father. As the father and son managed to get into a bedroom, the men shot through the locked door, hitting Harrilal.

However, it was the multiple stab wounds that killed him, the pathologist said. All three were identified after they were arrested.

At their trial, Glaude claimed he was tricked by police to sign a confession but said he was at home with his children all day.

Francis said he was sea fishing on the night of the murder and was also beaten and made to sign a false confession.

George claimed he was unaware of anything that was happening from May to August 1986 since he was ill and being treated by a psychiatrist during that time. He began to recover in late August and went to work at Toco, far from his home, where the police arrested him.

The State was represented by Stacy Laloo-Chong and Pravesh Ramlochan while Francis was represented by Rajiv Persad, SC, Vanita Ramroop and Ajesh Sumessar.