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Sunday 18 August 2019
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After 15 years in jail, man sentenced to 8 more for murder

A MAN charged with the 2002 murder of Palo Seco mechanic Nigel "Keith" Singh was yesterday sentenced to eight years, 11 months and two days in prison.

David George Huggins, 48, was in custody for the past 15 years awaiting trial.

That period was deducted from a 30-year jail term which Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds set as the maximum punishment, in addition to which, a third of the sentence was subtracted for Huggins pleading guilty.

The Court of Appeal quashed Huggins’ conviction and sentence and those of co-aacused Ian Little and Marlon Peters, for shooting Singh dead. He was abducted in the presence of his wife and two daughters from their Rancho Quemado Road home on September 13, 2003, at about 1.30 am. A jury found the three men guilty and sentenced them to death, but Appeal Court judges ordered a retrial.

A person can plead guilty to murder but only on the basis of the murder-felony rule. The Privy Council ruled in the case of death-row inmate Nimrod Miguel that not every guilty verdict attracts the death sentence, as a killing may not have been premeditated but occured during the commission of a lesser offence. In February, Little was freed after being in jail for 15 years when he pleaded guilty before Ramsumair-Hinds. Peters was jailed for a year and four months, having also been in custody for that period.

The Judiciary Sentencing manual mandates a third discount from a sentence a court sets for a guilty plea, plus deduction for time spent in custody awaiting trial. On Huggins’ arrest, he was found with a gun.

While he was awaiting retrial for Singh's murder, another trial for possession of the gun came up in 2017, before Justice Hayden St Clair-Douglas. He was sentenced to four years and four months, but as he was already in custody, the sentence for the gun charge was deemed as "already served". This sentence was subsumed into his incarceration in remand.

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