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One year for killing purse thief

PORT OF SPAIN — After serving ten-and-a-half years in prison, Point Fortin resident Simon Peter Charles Ovid was jailed for an additional year yesterday for the unlawful killing of purse thief Neil “Roll It” Hamilton on Boxing Day, December 26, 2002.

Yesterday Ovid, 33, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in May, was sentenced to the one-year jail term when he appeared before San Fernando judge Mark Mohammed.

Mohammed, in passing sentence, said he took into consideration the time Ovid served before pleading guilty. He was initially charged with murdering Hamilton. However, in January he indicated his intention to plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter. In May that plea was accepted by the State.

Mohammed told defence attorney, Rekha Ramjit, and state prosecutors Tricia Hudlin-Cooper and Renuka Rambachan yesterday if Ovid had been found guilty of manslaughter his possible sentence would have started at 15 years.

The judge said he needed to explain how he arrived at a one-year term of imprisonment for Ovid, especially in light of public perception.

He explained that in his deliberation he referred to the sentencing principles to consider an appropriate sentence for Ovid, who was 23 at the time of the incident. He discounted the ten-and-a-half years Ovid served from the possible 15-year sentence and gave Ovid a six-month discount for good behaviour. This would have reduced his sentence to four years.

He said a one-third discount is usually given to accused who plead guilty at the first reasonable opportunity and Ovid’s first reasonable opportunity for his guilty plea would have been at the magistrates’ court.

In Ovid’s case, Mohammed said, a one-fifth discount on the four-year sentence was appropriate. He ordered his sentence should run from last May 24 when his plea was accepted.

The State’s case was that around 12:15 a.m. on December 26, Ovid and another person attended a party at Fanny Village, Point Fortin. They said they were going to “put a cutlass on ‘Roll It’ (Hamilton’s nickname) tonight” because Hamilton had allegedly stolen a purse from the other man’s mother.

Hamilton was taken to the pavilion at the Fanny Village Recreation Ground. The other man beat him with a piece of wood while Ovid kicked him. (Guardian)

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