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(Inews Guyana) – “I am very sorry for the pain that I have caused the family of the deceased. I know that sorry cannot heal the pain. Please find a place in your heart to forgive me. Thanks and God bless,” were the words of 26-year-old Joshua Meredith before he was sentenced to 15 years in jail for manslaughter.
The East Ruimveldt, Georgetown resident was initially charged with the October 2, 2016 murder of 21-year-old Gregory Garraway, who was shot dead during a robbery.
Following his arraignment before Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry at the High Court in Demerara, Meredith pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter on December 4, 2020. Then, he was further remanded to prison as his lawyer requested a probation report before the sentence was passed.
The probation report was presented on Wednesday.
According to Prosecutor Nafeeza Baig, on the day in question, Garraway was at “Wings and Things Bar” at Mandela Avenue, Georgetown. At the time, the now dead man, who had gone into the bar to purchase food, was wearing two gold chains around his neck.
After placing his order, he left the bar. When Garraway returned, as he was crossing the street to pick up the food, Meredith snatched his chains, pulled a gun from his pocket, and discharged a round in Garraway’s direction, killing him. A post-mortem examination performed on the body revealed that Garraway sustained gunshot wounds to his abdomen and died as a result of septic shock.
Meredith was subsequently pointed out at an identification parade by the now dead man’s brother, who was present at the time of the shooting.
The probation report chronicled that Meredith has lived a delinquent lifestyle since the beginning of his teenage years. His criminal lifestyle, coupled with poor academic performance, led to him dropping out of school in Grade Eight.
Meredith told a probation officer that he began smoking marijuana with friends. He confessed that on many occasions he and his friends, while armed with guns, would ride around Georgetown on bicycles and rob people of their valuables. In 2009, when he was just 15, Meredith said that he travelled to Suriname where he was involved in criminal activities.
That same year, he was charged and placed before the courts for robbery. He was convicted of the offence. But owing to his tender age, the Magistrate fined him $20,000 and placed him on a bond to keep the peace for two years.
Residents in the East Ruimveldt community where Meredith lived had mixed reactions about him. While some said he was a very jovial and helpful young man, others described him as a “notorious criminal.”
Reports from the prison stated that Meredith was a very disrespectful and disorderly inmate. As a result of his attitude, prison officers were forced to place him in solitary confinement. He was even transferred to another prison facility. Relatives of the deceased expressed that they were still aggrieved over how their loved one met his demise.
The probation officer noted, “[Meredith] lived a life of crime. Even after he was incarcerated, he had no respect for authority.”
For his part, Meredith’s lawyer, Adrian Thompson, asked the court to be lenient with his client, given his home and economic background.
Thompson told the court that the murder convict was unable to have a good childhood due to several circumstances, including abandonment by his father. According to the defence counsel, his client grew up in a depressed community where he was heavily influenced by persons of unsavoury character. The lawyer nevertheless said that his client has indicated that he was ready to change his life.
Prosecutor Nafeeza Baig urged the court to impose a sentence that reflected the nature and gravity of the crime. Baig said that the court needed to send a strong message that these types of offences would not be tolerated. The Prosecutor also highlighted the fact that a gun was used during the commission of the crime.
In addition to Garraway’s murder, Meredith and another man, Colvin Johnson, are awaiting trial for the November 21, 2016 murder of 29-year-old Paul Rodney of West Ruimveldt, Georgetown.
It was reported that Rodney and a group of men were involved in an argument at Avocado Avenue, West Ruimveldt.
The argument escalated into a fight during which Rodney attempted to escape. He was pursued and shot several times about his body. His killer(s) escaped on a CG motorcycle. Police Headquarters, in a statement on the killing, had stated that ranks were on a mobile patrol when they heard several explosions and went to investigate.
They came upon a group of men running during which several more gunshots were fired. Rodney was subsequently found lying motionless on the ground, covered in blood.