Justice Carla Brown-Antoine –
A man who admitted to killing the husband of the woman he was involved with has been released from prison.
On Friday a High Court judge released Ravindra Mahatoo and his co-accused Jase Mungalsingh after sentencing them for the unlawful killing (manslaughter) of Rasheed Ali on May 2, 2008.
Ali was beaten and strangled and an attempt was made to burn him. A post-mortem report said there was burning and charring around his neck and over the back of the head. There were remnants of burnt paper around the neck. Strangulation was the likely cause of death, the report said. There was bleeding from the area of his penis.
Ali’s body was found on a lonely road in Fyzabad.
The two entered into a plea deal with the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and it was agreed on November 7 that they would plead guilty to manslaughter.
On Friday, Justice Carla Brown-Antoine sentenced them. She accepted the 21-year term of imprisonment as a starting point for the sentence suggested by the plea deal. She then adjusted their sentences downward and applied a one-third discount for their guilty pleas, leaving Mungalsingh with 13 years and four months and Mahatoo with 13 years and eight months. Since they had both spent 13 years and nine months on remand, which was also applied to their sentences, the judge ordered them released forthwith.
Mahatoo admitted to being romantically involved with Ali’s wife. He claimed the couple was still living together although they were separated, and when Ali found out about them, he began beating her.
He claimed he went to beat Ali because of Ali’s treatment of his wife, but never intended to kill him. A relative of Ali’s saw Mahatoo at Ali’s home at about 8.30 pm with two men in a beige Nissan Almera. Ali’s wife was speaking to the men, and 15 minutes later, the relative saw the beige-coloured car return and drive into Ali’s driveway.
The next day, Ali’s wife began asking people if they had seen or heard anything, as her husband was not home.
According to the evidence presented to the court, another witness heard Mahatoo saying they had killed his neighbour, and Ali’s car was seen parked at the end of a dead-end road. His naked body was nearby and the Siparia police were called.
During their investigations, police received information that Mahatoo tried contacting a man because he had a “scene to handle,” but was shot down. That witness said Mahatoo told him Ali had sent men to rob him.
A month before the incident, Mahatoo again called the man and asked if he knew anyone who “does put down work” and asked about Mungalsingh.
In early January 2009, Mungalsingh told another witness, at a bar, “The sick piece of work they put down on Rasheed Ali, it’s me and Ravi do that.”
Mahatoo and Mungalsingh were interviewed in April 2009.
Two years after the killing, a witness told police he had heard arguing coming from Ali’s home and heard him say, “Oh God, Nancy, tell Ravi and Jase doh beat me, nah. Doh let them kill me, nah.”
That witness saw Mahatoo hit Ali on the side of the head with an object and then both Mahatoo and Mungalsingh kicked him. That witness said he saw them wrap Ali in cloth and go to the garage area, after which he saw two cars leave – Ali’s car and another.
That witness told police he was threatened and told not to talk, or he “go be a dead man too.”
On February 12, 2010, both men were charged with Ali’s murder. A summary of the evidence presented to the court was agreed to by the defence at the plea-deal hearing and sentencing.
Mungalsingh was represented by public defenders Delicia Helwig-Robertson and Tonya Thomas. Mahatoo was represented by public defenders Michelle Ali and Shane Patience.
The State was represented by Giselle Ferguson-Heller.