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30 years in jail for taxi driver’s murder

Published: 
Friday, November 24, 2017
Justice Carla Brown-Antoine

Ten years after he was sentenced to death for murdering a taxi driver, 43-year old Donald David had his sentence varied to 30 years in jail yesterday.

David, however, will only serve 14 years, eight months and 24 days in prison as the time he has already spent in custody was deducted from the sentence.

The Appeal Court, in 2013, dismissed David’s appeal but sent the matter back to the High Court for the prisoner to be sentenced based on the murder-felony rule.

Under the felony murder rule, judges are given the discretion to waive the mandatory death penalty in circumstances where the victim is killed during the commission of a lesser criminal offence—in this case, robbery.

David was convicted on February 1, 2007, of the murder of Ramesh Seelochan and sentenced to death by hanging.

Recalling the facts in the case, Justice Carla Brown-Antoine presiding in the San Fernando First Court said on August 8, 2002, David went to the home of his good friend, Willis Romeo, at Britto Trace, Brothers Road and asked him to accompany him to Tabaquite to check some girls.

David, who had a knapsack on his back, told Romeo that Seelochan would take them there. Seelochan picked them up at Britto Trace junction in his gold coloured B-13 car and they headed to Brothers Road, Tabaquite.

Along the way, David, who was in the back seat, announced a holdup. Romeo, who was in the front passenger seat, turned around and saw David pointing a gun at his face. David ordered Seelochan to stop the car just before the WASA pumping station and told the men to exit the vehicle. He directed them to a nearby bushy area.

David ordered Romeo to take $200 Seelochan had in his possession and hand it over.

Seelochan pleaded for his life, saying, “Please don’t kill me, don’t shoot me, I will do anything you want.”

David then ordered Romeo to use Seelochan’s shoe lacings to tie his hands behind his back.

Seelochan continued begging for his life. Romeo ran off towards the road, and about four to five seconds later he heard a gunshot. David caught up with Romeo and ordered him to get into the car and drive. Romeo drove to a forested area known as Cats Hill. There, David lit the car on fire and both men left the scene by taxi. David paid the fare.

Romeo got home around 7 pm. On August 11, 2002, the same day Seelochan’s body was found. He contacted the police and went to the Rio Claro Police Station where he gave a statement and took the police to the scene where the car was burnt. He was subsequently released. David was arrested on August 15, 2002, hours before he boarded a flight to Grenada.

In passing sentence, Brown-Antoine described the killing as senseless.

She said according to the bio-social report, David might be saddened by the loss of life he has not fully accepted liability. State attorneys Stacy Laloo-Chung and Shabaana Shah prosecuted while David was represented by attorney Rekha Ramjit.