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(STABROEK NEWS) — After completing a third of the eight-year sentence imposed upon her for the unlawful killing of her pregnant best friend, Angelique Williams was one of 16 persons released on parole yesterday morning.
The other 15 persons had all been serving sentences for drug trafficking offences and in one instance for unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Williams, now 22, was sentenced on April 25th last year to eight years in jail for the 2015 killing of Lloyda Renita Thomas, whom she stabbed some 22 times.
She had initially been indicted for murder, to which she pleaded not guilty, but admitted guilt on the lesser offence of manslaughter.
Speaking with this newspaper yesterday, the young woman’s attorney, Mark Waldron, said he was happy that she had been released.
He said that after completing the mandatory one-third period of the sentence imposed as prescribed by law, his client had become eligible for parole consideration and so petitioned the Parole Board.
Subsections (a) and (b) of Section 5(1) of the Parole Act states that “The Minister may, if recommended to do so by the Board on a reference made to it by him, release on licence a person serving a sentence of (a) imprisonment, other than imprisonment for life or (b) detention imposed under section of the Juvenile Offenders Act in respect of any offence of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.”
Waldron said that his client’s petition was pending before the Parole Board, which in its consideration of a petitioner’s suitability, would conduct prison visits and convene private hearings.
These, he explained, are some of the steps which form part of the Board’s administrative process in making its final determination of whether or not the petitioner would be recommended to be granted parole.
Once the recommendation is favourable to the applicant, he said that the release licence would then be signed. This is done by the Minster of Public Security.
He said that Williams’ licence had been pending and he was happy to know that she was being paroled. “I really think she deserves a second chance,” he added, while saying Williams was still young and he hoped she would be able to move on and make meaningful contributions to society.
Waldron said he was hopeful that the young woman would not be vilified by the press and other sections of society which had scathing criticisms when the eight-year-sentence had been imposed.
Many were of the view that the sentence was too light and did not fit the crime, while arguing that it needed to be much heavier in order to send a strong message to society.
Williams’ sentence was handed down by Justice Navindra Singh following the presentation of a probation report.
Williams had stabbed Thomas on December 23rd, 2015 at Versailles, West Bank Demerara.
After the stabbing, a close friend of Thomas, Tiffany (only name given) had told Stabroek News that she learnt from other friends that an altercation took place after the women had left the Aracari Resort, where they had gone with about 10 other friends for a “hang.”
Tiffany had said that an argument broke out when Thomas, Williams and another friend were heading home.
At the time, they had been seated in the back seat of a vehicle driven by a male friend and they started to argue over the seating arrangements. It was then Williams reportedly stabbed Thomas continuously about her body.
Prior to sentencing, Williams said that she was sorry for what she had done and begged Justice Singh for mercy. “Your Honour, I wish to express my sincere regret for what I’ve done,” she had said.
According to Williams, the deceased was not only her best friend, “she was more like a sister to me.”
In tears, she added, “I know that sorry can’t bring her back, but sometimes I wish it could.”
She then apologised to both her and Thomas’ family for what she said was the shame she would have caused.
Justice Singh had told Williams that he would not grant her a suspended sentence as Waldron at that time had requested, since she needed to pay for what she had done. In arriving at his sentence, the judge had said that he had considered both the mitigating and aggravating circumstances of the case.
In this regard, Justice Singh said he had considered the possibility that “the system may have failed” the young woman if indeed she was never provided with counselling services when she needed it. He also considered her expression of remorse, including accepting responsibility for her actions at the first given opportunity and the fact that at age 18, when she committed the act, “she was still a child.”
The judge had said he believed that the young woman was on her way to rehabilitation. He, however, suggested to her that since alcohol played a major role in what transpired, she should consider not drinking ever again.
Justice Singh had then handed down the eight-year prison sentence, while informing Williams that the prison will make the necessary deductions for the time she had been on remand awaiting trial.
Meanwhile, also granted parole yesterday morning were Naomi Persaud, Sueanna Allicock, Hazel Smith, Lishon Marks, Kristina Rampersaud, Audrey Whinfield, Shaundell Monderson, Nkasi Giles, Chriscell Browne, Ian Johnson, Keran Phillips, Dwane David, Naveska Jairam, Seon Brammer and Aklan Lewis who had all been convicted for trafficking narcotics—cocaine and/or cannabis.
The drug with which Persaud was nabbed had been found in a house she was occupying and which was reportedly rented in the name of Andre Gomes, also known as ‘Zipper.’ Gomes had been subsequently arrested and charged but was found not guilty in July of this year of trafficking 992 grammes (equivalent to 2.1 pounds) of cocaine.
52-year-old Persaud had pleaded guilty on August 9th, 2017 for trafficking 9.626 kilograms of cocaine, for which she was sentenced to four years imprisonment.
The charge was levelled against Persaud and her 17-year-old grandson for trafficking the drug on August 6th, at Delph Street, Campbellville.
Subsequent to the charge being read, however, the grandmother entered a guilty plea and the charge against her grandson was dismissed by the prosecution. Together with her sentence, she was fined $21,225,330.
Allicock, 28, was convicted on September 27th, 2017 and sentenced to three years in jail for trafficking 350 grammes of cannabis, while Smith was earlier last year also sentenced to the same period but for trafficking one gramme of cocaine.
A two-year, six-month sentence and a fine of $50,000 was imposed against 29-year-old Marks on 1st November, 2017 for trafficking 870 grams of cannabis.
Rampersaud, 61, was convicted on September 21st, 2017 for trafficking five pounds of cocaine, which she was trying to sneak on board a flight to New York. She was sentenced to four years imprisonment and fined $6.5 million.
Whinfield, 43, was convicted on January 22nd, of this year for trafficking 2.588 kilogrammes of cocaine and was sentenced to a term of imprisonment for three years. Monderson, 41, was convicted on August 14th, 2017 for trafficking 37 ½ grammes of cannabis and was sentenced to three years of imprisonment.
Giles, 36, was also convicted for trafficking narcotics on September 27th, 2017. She was sentenced to a term of imprisonment for three years and fined $1.5 million.
Browne, 28, was on November 1st, 2017, convicted for trafficking 12.314 kilogrammes of cocaine and sentenced to a term of imprisonment for 2 years, 9 months.
Johnson, 25, was on convicted on January 25th, 2017 for trafficking 15 grammes of amphetamines and 2.588 kilogrammes of cannabis. She was sentenced to three years on each conviction, but the court had ordered that the sentences to be served concurrently.
Phillips, 31, was on convicted on August 11th, 2017 for trafficking 30 grammes of cannabis and 59 grammes of cocaine. The magistrate imposed a sentence of imprisonment for three years.
David, 24, was on June 16th, 2017 convicted for trafficking 1,735 grammes of cannabis and was sentenced to five years in jail.
Jairam, 25, was convicted on May 22nd, 2017 for trafficking two grammes of cocaine, for which he was sentenced to three years.
Brammer, 36, was convicted on October 5th, 2016 for trafficking 464 grammes of cannabis. He was sentenced to four years in prison and fined $30,000.
Lewis, 38, was on May 27th, 2016 convicted for trafficking cannabis. Additionally, he was convicted for the offences of unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition, and assaulting a peace officer. He was sentenced to four years and six months on the firearm and ammunition charges and three months for assaulting the police officer.