TWO men have been sentenced for the murder of St James dentist Russell John in 2007.
John was at his Madras Street, St James, practice with his wife and two young children when two men pretending to be patients shot him during a robbery.
The men were Dwayne “Fighter” Hamilton and Daniel “Boom” Robertson, who were sentenced today by Justice Hayden St Clair-Douglas to ten years and six months and ten years and two months, respectively.
In sentencing them, St Clair-Douglas said John and his wife, Ella Mae Jurawan-John, who is also a dentist, and their two young children were in what should have been a safe place for them.
“It was not a restaurant where they having a meal. It was not a bar where they were having drinks. It was not a dark street…They were in what should have been a safe place,” he said.
He said during the ordeal, Jurawan-John would have watched her husband being shot and their daughters would have seen their father being shot and bleeding from the neck.
John, son of retired trade unionist Selwyn John, was taken to the Port of Spain General Hospital, where he died days later.
According to the prosecution’s case, the couple’s receptionist recognised Hamilton at the hospital after he was brought in for treatment for a gunshot wound. The bullet retrieved from Hamilton was matched to the gun of the dentist, who was a registered gun owner, putting Hamilton at the scene of the murder.
Although Robertson pleaded for a lesser sentence, since he claimed he played a lesser role as the lookout, St Clair-Douglas said it was clear from the facts he assisted in commi the crime.
The judge started with a sentence of 33 years’ hard labour for both men, saying he took into account the predatory nature of the crime, the use of a ruse, turning the Johns’ dental practice into a frenzy and murder scene, the use of a firearm, and the fact that John was shot in the presence of his wife and children.
A one-third discount was given to both men for their guilty pleas, and the time they spent on remand awaiting sentencing was also deducted from the starting-point sentence.
An additional six months was taken off Robertson’s sentence for his clean prison record and his attempts to improve his academic standing by enrolling in self-improvement classes, as well as attaining passes in CXC subjects.
There was no further reduction for Hamilton, who had several infractions against him in prison for possession of prohibited items and altercations.
State prosecutor Veona Neal-Munroe represented the State.