Trinidad: Doubles vendor jailed for 15 yrs after burning man alive

(TRINIDAD NEWSDAY) – FOR setting a man on fire, doubles vendor Nizam Mohammed, 45, was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment yesterday by a High Court judge in San Fernando, but will serve five years in jail because of his ten-year wait in custody for trial.

The incident happened in May 2008.

Mohammed’s wife, Putitia, 39, also a doubles vendor, and their worker, Daniel Sammy, were all on trial for murder.

They are from Cipero Road on the outskirts of San Fernando and were charged with throwing gasoline on Stephen Joshua, 37, also called Jumbo, and setting him alight.

Putitia and Sammy were found not guilty on March 28, but the jury found Mohammed guilty of manslaughter.

He had offered to plead guilty on advice from attorney Israel Khan SC, instructed by attorney Alima Alexis, but the State rejected it.

In passing sentence yesterday, trial judge Maria Wilson said the jury rejected Mohammed’s defence of self-defence and found he was provoked by Joshua.

At about 4.10 pm, Joshua, who was known to the family and who lived a short distance away, stormed the house and, poking a hand towards Mohammed’s face, shouted, “Man, take yuh time, know what you doing!”

There was a scuffle and Joshua fell.

Gasoline was poured on Joshua, and Mohammed, using his cigarette lighter, set him on fire.

Joshua died ten days later in hospital.

Wilson reasoned that 24 years would be a starting point, life being the maximum for manslaughter.

She deducted three years for Joshua’s aggravating behaviour and six years for Mohammed’s willingness to plead guilty.

She said the doubles vendor was contrite and was of good character, such that he often gave away free doubles.