BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Friday May 11, 2018 – A Guyanese man who was involved in the killing of a Russian teenager in Barbados back in 2008, has had his sentence reduced after appealing to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
The CCJ ruled yesterday that Teerath Persaud’s manslaughter sentence be reduced from 25 to 18 years. With a discount for time already spent in custody, he would serve 13 years and 339 days, starting from December 11, 2012.
Persaud was convicted along with Barbadian Christopher Omar McCollin of killing Anna Druizhinina on November 8, 2008, a day after her 16th birthday. Druizhinina came to Barbados at the age of seven with her mother Larissa Jackson and stepfather John Jackson, who owned a wholesale business where Persaud had previously been employed. Three months prior to her death, Persaud was shot in the arm by his former employer with whom he got into an altercation following the disappearance of BDS$100,000 (US$50,000) from the business. Druizhinina’s death was seen as a revenge killing by Persaud.
On the day in question, Persaud and McCollin went to rob the Jackson residence, and when they found Druizhinina home alone, they bound her hands and feet and tied a towel around her face. One end of a piece of wire was looped around her neck and the other thrown over a beam in the ceiling, and the girl was made to stand on a paint can and bucket that were placed one on top of the other. Druizhinina was left precariously perched on the containers while Persaud and McCollin searched for items to steal, and she eventually fell and was strangled.
When he pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter on February 3, 2010, McCollin was sentenced by Justice Randall Worrell to 16 years’ imprisonment, less 20 months for time spent on remand. But when Persaud submitted a similar plea to Justice Maureen Crane-Scott on September 11, 2012, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison with a discount of four years and 26 days for time spent on remand.
The judge had found that it was a serious case of manslaughter on the borderline of murder with numerous aggravating factors, and so she said that in her sentencing process she would use a starting point of 30 years. She then took into consideration his early guilty plea, previously clean record, cooperation with the police, and expression of remorse in determining her final sentence.
But Persaud appealed to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that his sentence was unreasonably longer than McCollin’s, and that the sentence had been excessive because of the misapplication of the aggravating and mitigating factors in the case.
However, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and Persaud went to the CCJ arguing essentially the same grounds argued in the Court of Appeal.
In its ruling yesterday, the CCJ sided with the convict.
It concluded that “the concept of parity in sentencing was an important principle in the law of sentencing and that persons whose personal circumstances are similar and whose legal liability for the offence are relatively the same should receive comparable sentences”.
The Trinidad-based court said it was not convinced that the case against Persaud was so dramatically different from that against McCollin that he should be sentenced to an additional nine years in prison.
The CCJ also found that the starting point of 30 years adopted by the judge in Persaud’s case was too high and that she should have started at 25 years. The Court said that an additional two years should be added for the aggravating factors in this case but gave a discount of one-third for his early guilty plea, resulting in a sentence of 18 years.