L-R: Melroy Doris and Ashmini Harriram
Melroy Doris, who confessed that he was the driver of the getaway car in the killing of Lusignan, East Coast Demerara (ECD) cosmetologist Ashmini Harriram, was on Thursday sentenced to five years in prison on a manslaughter charge.
Initially indicted for the murder of 19-year-old Harriram, Doris, 34, had earlier pleaded guilty to the lesser offence after he was arraigned before Justice Brassington Reynolds.
State Prosecutor Tyra Bakker told the court that on the day in question, Harriram, also known as “Monisha Harriram”, and her cousin were walking along the Lusignan Public Road, when they noticed a burgundy Toyota 212 motor car bearing registration number PRR 8370 parked along the road. A few minutes later, the teenager was shot to her head, and the car drove off.
Doris was arrested for the murder on September 2, 2014, and gave Police a caution statement in which he admitted to being the getaway driver. A post-mortem examination revealed that Harriram died as a result of respiratory failure and gunshot injuries to the spine.
During a sentencing hearing on Thursday, a probation officer disclosed that Doris seemed remorseful for his actions.
According to the probation officer, Doris, who resided at Bent Street, Wortmanville, Georgetown before his incarceration, was described as a well-mannered individual by residents in the community. The probation officer disclosed that officials at the Lusignan Prison, where he is being kept, also shared similar sentiments.
Meanwhile, relatives of the now-dead woman in an interview with the probation officer shared that they missed her and hoped that justice would be served.
In sentencing the confessed killer, Justice Reynolds considered his age, domestic circumstances, and the fact that he was a first-time offender.
Moreover, the Judge took into consideration the nature and manner in which the offence was committed, Doris’s early guilty plea, his expression of remorse, the observations made by the probation officer, as well as the plea of mitigation made by Senior Counsel Stanley Moore on his behalf.
According to the High Court Judge, there was nothing in the evidence that revealed that Doris was directly involved in the killing, neither was he the shooter. In arriving at an appropriate sentence for Doris, Justice Brassington started at a base of 12 and a half years.
From that, seven years were deducted for the time the confessed killer spent on remand awaiting trial. The Judge further deducted half of a year, for his early guilty plea, favourable probation report, and plea of mitigation made by his lawyer among other factors.
As a result of the deductions, Doris’s sentence was reduced to five years.
Meanwhile, Lennox Wayne, called “Two Colours”, who was jointly charged with Doris for the teen’s murder, is still awaiting trial for the offence. Wayne and Doris were first tried for the offence in 2017. That trial, however, ended in a hung jury.
Accordingly, the trial Judge ordered a retrial.
According to the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Wayne had, in November 2020, indicated to the State that he wanted to plead guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter.
The murder accused, however, changed his decision, the DPP Chambers disclosed.
Reports are that Wayne was not pleased with the plea deal being offered.
Wayne was first charged with the murder in 2014 and was remanded to prison.
In the meantime, his lawyers – Nigel Hughes and Ronald Daniels – have since filed a constitutional motion asking for a permanent stay of the murder proceedings against their client.
Among other things, Wayne is also suing the State for more than $100,000 in damages for a breach of his fundamental right to a fair trial within a reasonable time as guaranteed under Article 144 of the Constitution of Guyana.
In court documents, Wayne deposed that four years later, he was yet to be brought before a Judge and jury for the retrial to commence.
According to the murder accused, although his name had been listed on the Demerara Criminal Assizes for retrial in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021, his case has not been called.
He is also seeking a declaration that his fundamental right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time has been breached as a result of the lengthy delay in his retrial. Justice Navindra Singh will rule on the constitutional motion on May 6, 2021.