Wife-killer resentenced to time served, released from prison

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Justice Gail Gonzales –

A SCORNED husband who killed his estranged wife in 1994 after he allegedly found her with another man whom she said she preferred and refused to return to the marital home has been resentenced by a High Court judge and released after serving close to three decades in prison.

On Monday, Tackoor Ramcharan, now 58, was sentenced to time served and ordered released by Justice Gail Gonzales.

He was one of more than 50 death row inmates who had their death sentences commuted to life in 2008.

In 2022, the Privy Council ruled these prisoners were entitled to be resentenced. Ramcharan was one of them.

On May 28, 1999, Ramcharan was convicted of the May 14, 1994, murder of his wife Naline in Mayaro and sentenced to death by hanging.

He appealed his conviction and sentence which was dismissed in November 1999. His petition to the Privy Council was also dismissed in 2001.

In her resentencing exercise, Gonzales said the court had to determine the appropriate sentence to incorporate mitigating factors, the time the prisoner already spent in custody and the deterrent effect of the exercise.

She acknowledged that in most cases that would be life imprisonment but imposing such a sentence could not be done without considering the facts of the prisoner.

She also said, unlike cases where there was no planned, premeditated attack, such as in felony murder cases, “perpetrators of domestic violence must be dealt with firmly.”

“We must consider that this was a killing after domestic violence. The court must make note of the prevalence of domestic violence.

“It was present in 1994.”

The judge said a woman’s life was “taken away who considered that he did not want her to have anyone else.”

She said the killing was planned as is often the case in domestic violence matters and two children were left motherless and fatherless because of the prisoner.

Gonzales began with a 35-year sentence after which she weighed the mitigating and aggravating factors of both the prisoner and the offence.

She said Ramcharan was an alcoholic who abused his wife when he was drunk. She also noted that by its verdict, the jury which convicted him did not agree with his defence of provocation.

She also noted that despite his claims that he made amends with his children and his wife’s family, this was not true nor had he engaged in rehabilitative programmes while in prison. She said other than art, he did not attend any of the prison journey programmes nor did he get help for his alcohol abuse or anger management.

While she noted he was a good prisoner who was allowed to leave the prison for approved engagements, Ramchran still made himself out to be a victim.

She reduced her starting point by five years, leaving him with a minimum term of 30 years on his sentence but said given that he had been incarcerated for 29 years and there was no evidence he was a danger to society, he would be sentenced to time served and released.

According to the evidence at his trial, the couple had separated and he wanted to “make up with his wife.”

She left the marital home and stayed in a house close to her mother’s in Mayaro.

Days before he killed her, Ramcharan went to her new home and threatened to chop her up after he failed to persuade her to return to him.

On the night he killed her, he returned to her home, called her outside and chopped her several times. She ran towards the main road. At the same time, her mother was coming towards her and they met.

She was chopped on the head, arms, and hands and one of her eyes was hanging out on her face. Her mother saw Ramcharan with a cutlass in his hand before he ran off.

When he was arrested at his home, he admitted to police he chopped his wife and showed them the clothes he was wearing at the time. He also took them to his mother’s home in Rio Claro where he hid the cutlass under a bed.

In a written statement, he said he found his wife with another man and when he asked her to come back to him, she refused because she said the other man was “sweeter than him.”

On the night of the attack, she again refused to reconcile “because she said she had another man.”

In his defence, Ramcharan said he did not kill his wife but admitted he saw her days before when she cursed him and told him she had another man whom she preferred to him.

He claimed he went to the police station because his wife had been wounded in a fight with his mother and he signed a document which he was told was for bail for his mother and not the written confession in which he gave a full description of what took place.

Ramcharan claimed he did not know his wife was dead nor was he in Mayaro that night.

He was arrested on May 16, 1994, and committed to stand trial on March 12, 1997.

At his resentencing, he was represented by Senior Counsel John Heath and Peter Carter while the State was represented by attorneys Rhea Libert, Josiah Soo Hon and Ananda Gobin.