A SURINAME woman who spent five years and seven months in jail awaiting her trial for an offence, which carries a maximum penalty of five years, has been sentenced by a High Court judge, and ordered to repay her victim.
Alicia Ramnath, 31, was before Justice Gillian Lucky in the Port of Spain Fifth Criminal Court, for sentencing.
She was one of the scores of prisoners who took part in a special status hearing, last month, which sought to determine the status of the cases in the system so that they could be fast-tracked.
One of them was Ramnath’s and her case was put on a high priority list since it was discovered that she had already spent more time in jail awaiting trial than had she been convicted of corruptly receiving money under false pretences.
Her sentence was one of time already spent since the sentence for the offence Lucky would have imposed was two years, taking into account the reduction for her guilty plea.
It was alleged that in February 2011, Ramnath rented a Honda Civic on two occasions from Dwarika Heerasingh and attempted to sell it to Ken Lutchman.
Lutchman’s mother, Ria Rampersad, on March 10, 2011, paid $3,500 to Ramnath, who used one of her five fake names she used.
Ramnath was yesterday ordered to repay to Rampersad the $3,500, and is to do so by August 30. The money will be paid by cheque to the Registrar of the Supreme Court for Rampersad.
Questioned by Lucky on why she chose to enter into a life of crime, Ramnath, a mother of three, said she was left in substantial debt by her late first husband.
While admitting she was not blaming him, Ramnath admitted that the decision to turn to a life of crime was her own.
She also had a previous conviction for which she spent 20 months in prison and alluded to committing other criminal acts before she got re-married and her life settled down.
She assured the judge that since incarcerated she has reunited with her parents and they are willing to support her, including financially, once she does not return to her previous lifestyle.
“You have been given a new lease on life,” Lucky told her, reminding her that she also had three children who also needed her unconditional love and support in the same way she needed her parents’.
The judge urged her not to use her experience in prison to “beat the system,” but rather use it to change her life.
“Young women are being used as criminal pawns...There is no excuse for committing a criminal act.”
After leaving the court, Ramnath was taken to the Immigration Division’s office at Henry Street, Port of Spain, where she is to undergo a special inquiry to determine if she violated any immigration laws and also to determine her status in Trinidad.
An immigration officer who has assisted Lucky in past cases was also present in court to explain what the immigration process would be after Ramnath is sentenced.