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Trinidad: Two men sentenced for robbing pundit 13 years ago

By TRINIDAD NEWSDAY

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Robbery victim Chaitram Harrygobin leaves the San Fernando High Court yesterday after two men who pleaded guilty to robbing him and his family 13 years ago were sent to jail.

(TRINIDAD NEWSDAY) — A Businessman told a High Court judge yesterday how he had to sell off his business and migrate because of a robbery in which his family was terrorised. Even as he left his hometown, he received threatening telephone calls, as the case remained pending for 13 years.

Yesterday, Jason Mitchell and Keron Gulston, of Upper Pashley Street, Laventille, were jailed for a total of 16 years for robbing Chaitram Harrygobin, a Hindu pundit, at his home in Penal, South Trinidad in 2006.

In July last year, their accomplice Kevin Joseph was sentenced to a total of 17 years on five counts of robbery with aggravation by Justice Hayden St Clair-Douglas. He is serving eight years as the sentences are running concurrently.

Yesterday, Justice Gillian Lucky, in the San Fernando High Court, sentenced Mitchell and Gulston to a total of 19 years and one month on the five-count indictment. The sentences are to run concurrently, so they will serve eight years and a month.

It was a day of terror in Penal on December 8, 2006. Harrygobin ran a car rental business at Ramai Trace, Debe, and Mitchell, Gulston and Joseph held up an employee and family members at gunpoint. They threatened to smother Harrygobin’s children’s mouths with pillows to prevent them from screaming.

The pundit was driving home, having attended a prayer meeting earlier that day, when he saw the commotion. The men chased Harrygobin in an attempt to rob him as well.

Yesterday, he stood in the witness box and told Lucky how his children still suffer nightmares, he sold out his business and migrated.

“But I forgive them both,” he said. “I leave the court to do its job.”

Sitting in the dock, the two accused listened attentively to Harrygobin, who went on, “I was not at home when this happened. If I had not reached home in time, God alone knows what would have been the end result. I had to sell the business. I had to sell the residence. I migrated for little while and I came back and close down everything. I moved out of the area.”

Harrygobin added, “It happened 13 years ago, but it still seems like yesterday. Yes, the accused met me in the corridor and spoke to me. I forgive them.” Senior State Attorney Trevor Jones prosecuted while attorneys Ian Brooks and Renuka Rambhajan defended the accused.

Mitchell and Gulston pleaded guilty and Lucky conducted a Maximum Sentencing Indication session. The maximum sentence is 15 years for robbery with aggravation. The judge started with 13 years on the first count. After a mandatory third discount for their guilty plea and time spent in prison, both will serve eight years and a month with hard labour, beginning yesterday.

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