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Trinidad: Son sentenced for beating mother to death

By Trinidad Newsday

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(TRINIDAD NEWSDAY) —  A son who bludgeoned his mother to death in 2007 after she quarrelled with him for not doing enough in the house has four months and 14 days left to serve on his sentence.

Vishal Maharaj, 32, was sentenced on Friday by Justice Devan Rampersad at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain after a jury convicted him of manslaughter on the basis of provocation.

Originally, Maharaj was charged with the murder of his mother, Rampattie Maharaj, 47, on July 23, 2007, at the family’s home at Gordon Street, Curepe.

Before his trial, his attorneys wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions expressing his wish to plead guilty to manslaughter, but this was rejected. Instead, Maharaj went to trial indicted for his mother’s murder.

Because the jury found him guilty of the lesser count, the judge, in sentencing Maharaj, gave him the full one-third discount afforded to prisoners who plead guilty, as well as a deduction of a year because he was relatively young at the time he killed his mother – he was 20, had no previous convictions at the time and had expressed remorse by not only wanting to plead guilty, but eventually confessing to police he was responsible for his mother’s death and was sorry.

The 12 years, three months and 14 days Maharaj has spent in jail awaiting trial was also deducted from the 20-year sentence

Rampersad started with in accordance to sentencing guidelines.

The judge acknowledged that the act of killing his mother would stay with Maharaj for an eternity.

“It will always be on your conscience,” he told the prisoner.

Maharaj’s attorneys Frank Peterson and Josiah Soo Hon had asked for a non-custodial sentence for him, saying there were strong mitigating factors which would attract putting him on a bond.

However, prosecutor Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal, while agreeing that Maharaj should receive a one-third discount, said there were several aggravating factors to the offence, which included: the victim was hit on the head; she was killed in the safety of her house; she was a vulnerable victim; and a trowel and baton were used to bludgeon her.

She also pointed out that Maharaj tried to conceal evidence by disposing of his shirt and initially told his uncle and the police he had come home and found his mother dead.

In his confession statement, Maharaj said he and his mother had an argument when he returned home after playing pool with some friends after work. Maharaj said she was arguing about him not helping out in the house and said she was fed up with him.

He said he got angry and hit her on the head “a lot” to knock her out.

He said he left her bleeding on the ground and went back to the sports club, where he stayed until 10.40 pm. When he returned home, he saw his mother still on the ground and called out to his uncle.

According to the judge, Maharaj’s mother was still alive when he left the house and his stepsister, who was 17 at the time, was in the bedroom, having witnessed the attack.

Dougdeen-Jagal, in her response to the plea in mitigation, said society has become besieged by violence and urged the judge to send a strong message on the way mothers ought to be treated.

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