San Fernando man sentenced for taxi driver’s ‘vicious, horrific’ 2006 killing

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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A HIGH Court judge had some harsh words about the killing of a San Fernando taxi driver in 2006 as he sentenced one of his killers, who pleaded guilty to his role in the act.

On Thursday, Justice Norton Jack sentenced Avinash Pooran, 32, of 96 Duncan Village, San Fernando, for the murder of Adika Nicholas on December 9, 2006.

He described the killing as “vicious and horrific” and “perpetrated for pure gain with reckless regard for life.

“A life was snuffed out because of car parts,” he said, as he referred to the evidence that Pooran and two others planned to rob Nicholas of his car, which was scrapped for parts and found burnt in Borde Narve.

Nicholas was stabbed 54 times and his throat slit, the autopsy said. Two men found his body in a drain on Rousillac Extension Road.

The judge said discarding Nicholas’s body in a drain was an “egregious act that cannot be ignored.”

“The victim was senselessly killed,” he said, adding that Nicholas’s life was of no less value than Pooran’s.

Jack started with a 30-year sentence but discounted Pooran’s guilty plea and the 15 years he spent in prison, leaving him to serve two years, eight months, and six days. The judge also considered Pooran’s age at the time of the killing, and that he had no criminal history and no infractions recorded against him while in prison.

“While he was not virtuous or a shrinking violet, the court accepts he was of good character,” the judge said as he rejected a suggestion by the State that Pooran’s admissions of smoking weed and driving his sister’s car without a licence were evidence of deviant conduct.

Pooran’s plea was based on the felony murder construct. Felony murder is categorised as a violent arrestable offence and applies when an offender commits a certain kind of felony and someone is killed in the course of it. It does not carry the automatic death sentence reserved for murder convictions.

The judge also noted Pooran was six months shy of 18 at the time of the killing so provisions of the ChildrenAct precluded him from imposing the death penalty.

Pooran’s attorneys Peter Carter and public defender Chimere Gibson-Wadi asked the judge to impose a prison term rather than sentence him to the court’s pleasure.

Nicholas’s family, in a victim-impact statement presented to the court, said they still could not come to terms with the killing and were distraught.

“The void will never be filled.”

In March, Pooran’s co-accused Winston “Monty” Alleyne also pleaded guilty. Jack sentenced him to serve out four years and ten months of his 28-year prison sentence.

It was the prosecution’s case that the two, along with another man, got into Nicholas’s taxi at Library Corner, San Fernando while Nicholas was waiting for passengers. When they later killed him, Alleyne’s role was to hold Nicholas’s feet while the others stabbed him.

Nicholas lived at 13 Papourie Road, Duncan Village, San Fernando, and owned a dark grey Nissan B13 which he worked as a taxi.

When police arrested Pooran and Alleyne, days after the killing, they said the three of them were at a house in Duncan Village, where they discussed their financial problems and “planned to get some cars” to help one of the men pay his mortgage and bills.

They agreed to take part in the robbery and went to San Fernando, where they parked their car on Cipero Street and took a taxi to the Marabella taxi stand at Library Corner.

One of them hired Nicholas to take him to his mother’s home in Rousillac. On the way, Alleyne told Nicholas he wanted to urinate and Nicholas told him to hold on, as the man who hired him said they were near their destination.

When the car stopped, Alleyne got out to relieve himself and when he returned, “Everything started.” They pulled Nicholas from the front of the car to the back and struggled with him. One man held him down by his feet while the others stabbed him. They then threw him out of the car and left him, driving his car to their home, where they changed their bloodstained clothing.

The next day, they took Nicholas’s car to a cane field, where they scrapped it. They took off the bonnet, trunk, lights and some other items and left the shell, after setting it on fire, in the field.

In 2015, Justice Althea Alexis-Windsor convicted and sentenced Pooran and Alleyne. They appealed and a retrial was ordered.

The State was represented by prosecutor Norma Peters.