Malick man sentenced for dousing ex-girlfriend with gas, setting her on fire

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

– File photo

A High Court judge decried the prevalence of intimate-partner violence as she sentenced a Malick man to 16 years’ imprisonment for the attempted murder of his then-pregnant ex-girlfriend by dousing her with gasoline and lighting her on fire.

As she sentenced Sherwin Cadore for attempted murder, Justice Sherene Murray-Bailey said, “Intimate partner violence is prevalent in our society, and not only are the incidents becoming more frequent, but the brazen nature of these attacks has also increased.

“The act by this prisoner of ‘bathing down’ a pregnant woman with a gasoline mixture and lighting her on fire must be punished.

“One cannot be oblivious to the upsurge of violence against women. The prevalence of intimate-partner violence in Trinidad and Tobago is well documented and rears its head with a degree of prevalence that must be depreciated in the strongest of terms.”

Cadore’s attorney Roshan Tota-Maharaj had asked for a non-custodial sentence and an order for him to compensate his victim.

Murray-Bailey said although there was no need to deter Cadore further, the court had to send a message to would-be offenders, through her sentence, that “ intimate-partner violence is to be deprecated.”

Cadore was sentenced to 16 years, from which the 165 days he spent on remand will be subtracted.

He was before the judge in a judge-only trial and was found guilty of attempted murder.

He was accused of setting fire to his on-again, off-again girlfriend on June 28, 2013, at his Malick, Barataria home. She had gone there to spend the weekend.

It was the prosecution’s case that the woman was four months pregnant and there was an argument about the baby’s paternity.

The woman was choked and an attempt was made to smother her with a pillow before she managed to push him off and run into the gallery.

However, it was there he doused her with gasoline and lit her on fire. Her head, face, hands, breasts and belly caught fire. She testified that her whole body was in flames.

She managed to run to a nearby yard and rolled in water from a neighbour’s overflowing tank, eventually making it to her sister’s home before she was taken to hospital.

The woman also testified that her skin was dropping off her body.

She also testified that she told Cadore he already knew she “was with other guys when she was with him at the same time” and he may not have been the father of the child. It was the argument over the child’s paternity that triggered the assault.

Cadore did not testify at his trial, but denied the allegations against him.

His case was that on the night of June 27, 2013, he and the woman were smoking marijuana when she kept pulling it away from him.

His case further alleged he tried to hold her down and take it away, but she pulled a knife on him and tried to stab him,

Cadore’s defence further alleged he took his marijuana and went to his room, telling the woman to pack her bags and leave her house. He claimed he went into the gallery to tend to his wacker, but she rushed him and gas spilled on both of them.

According to the judge’s written ruling, Cadore’s defence said he tried to put out the fire, and she ran out of the yard, but he did not follow her.

He denied telling the police he and his girlfriend had an altercation or that he took up a bottle of gas when she had a knife in her hand, and threw it on her, setting her on fire with his lighter.

Although the judge accepted that the police did not follow “with exactitude,” the best practices for taking contemporaneous notes when a suspect makes an oral admission, rejecting that part of the evidence, she did find that the State had satisfied her Cadore was guilty of “deliberately and unlawfully” dousing the woman with gasoline and setting her on fire.

The State was represented by Josanne Forrester and Kateisha Ambrose-Persadsingh.

Newsday understands Cadore intends to appeal the judge’s verdict.

At the family court, after the incident and while on bail, Cadore tried to get visitation rights for the child. The court ordered a paternity test which showed he was not the father.