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Jail sentence reduced in ‘Copper Cauldron’ case

Jail sentence reduced in ‘Copper Cauldron’ case

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Andre Mornix has had his conviction reduced from murder to manslaughter and his jail sentence reduced by five years, in what has been dubbed the “Copper Cauldron case.”

He had appealed both the murder conviction and sentencing of the 2013 ruling.

On December 6, 2013, almost two years after the death of 25-year-old Desmond Lowman of Georgetown, a sentence was passed in the High Court, wherein Mornix would spend 20 years in jail. The 20 years was reflective of the charge of murder which had been laid against him by the Crown, which made a case that the deceased had died after succumbing to burns about his body, after having been thrown in a cauldron of boiling water by Mornix. It was alleged that he had done so in retaliation for what he thought was theft of his sheep.

Counsel for Mornix, Al Elliot, referred to three bases for seeking the appeal, including the trial judge failing to properly refer to manslaughter in his summation to the jury, erroneously allowing inadmissible evidence, and lastly causing a prejudiced result by a summation to the jury that was unfair to the defendant.

The Crown, represented by counsel Karim Nelson, accepted these submissions and stated they were also of the view that the conviction should be quashed.

The Chief Justice, Dame Janice M Pereira, then asked Elliot if his client wished to have a retrial.

The lawyer explained that because the matter had some age, and the defendant already had spent time in prison since 2011, by the time there was another trial, Mornix would have served a sentence for manslaughter already.

He said that this, on top of the fact that the summation by the trial judge had been unbalanced and unfair, he thought a manslaughter conviction would instead be appropriate.

Further, the lawyer wanted the Justices to consider a lesser sentence within manslaughter, and impose a sentence of 10 years instead of 15. Mornix being 48 years old and holding no previous convictions, Elliot opined that the actions he had taken had been “entirely out of his character.”

However, the Crown did not accept the lesser sentence, saying, “I cannot see us moving from 15” years, after citing the aggravating factor that the dying man had been denied water by the accused when he asked for it, in a refusal which contained a severe expletive.

The Chief Justice upheld the replacement of a murder conviction with one of manslaughter, given the Crown’s concession. She listed both factors noted by counsel and stated that they cancelled each other out, and that there “was no room for moving from the 15 years,” which was the norm for manslaughter.

Now, for causing the death of Lowman, the appellant will spend 15 years instead of 20 in jail, the 681 days spent on remand before his original sentence credited to this.(KR)

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