TWO Sea Lots men who admitted to plotting to rob a “Vincy” boat of marijuana and US currency in 2008 have each been sentenced for their roles in the crime when left one man dead.
Kerun Francois and Fabien “Worm” Clement were allowed to plead guilty to felony murder and were sentenced on Monday by Justice Geoffrey Henderson at a virtual hearing.
Murder felony is categorised as a violent arrestable offence and applies when someone commits a certain kind of felony and someone dies in the course of it.
The men told police they were part of a plan to rob a boat from St Vincent moored at the Caricom Jetty in Port of Spain on October 23, 2008.
The two men were represented by a team of attorneys from the public defenders’ department including Tonya Thomas, Candace Nanton, Whitney Franklin and Michelle Gonzalez.
Henderson began with a starting point of 23 years for Francois, but brought it down because of mitigating factors attributed to the accused and gave him his one-third discount for his guilty plea, leaving a total of 13 years and eight months.
From that figure, the 13 years and one month Francois had spent in custody awaiting trial were further deducted, leaving seven months as the remaining sentence.
Clement’s sentence also began at 23 years, but the judge also brought it down by two years because of mitigating factors. He too received his one-third discount for his guilty plea and the 13 years, one month and eight days, he spent in custody were also deducted.
Clement is expected to serve ten months and 23 days, but the final figure was left to the prison authorities to calculate.
It was the prosecution’s evidence that on October 23, 2008, at about 2.30 am, a security officer at the jetty saw two people near the toilet, walking towards the guard booth. One had a gun. The security officer was hit twice in the head with the gun.
To the south side of the jetty, he saw three other men boarding the boat Persia II.
The men had cutlasses. He was robbed of $70, his cigarettes, and a lighter, then heard four loud explosions. He then saw the three men run past him, joined by the two who robbed him.
When police arrived, they found Palmie Mars’ body. An autopsy showed he had been shot in the back and died from internal chest and abdominal injuries.
On October 30, then Insps Jayson Forde and Creighton Hudson went to Sea Lots, where they arrested Francois. He told police in an interview he, his cousin and friend planned to rob a boat that was said to be carrying marijuana and US$60,000. They met up with three other men who were also part of the robbery plan.
Francois told police his cousin decided to rob “the boats by the wharf” and “eat a small food from the robbery, so the plan was to rob the boats and share up the US money and de weed and anything else we get in de boats.”
One of the other men took his father’s boat and two others had guns – a .38 and a "nines" – with them.
When they got to the jetty, all but one of the men went to two boats at the jetty.
Francois said while he and another man were taking a case of brandy and a crocus bag out of one boat, he heard three loud explosions. They both dropped the items they had in their hands and ran off the boat into the sea and swam back to Sea Lots.
He said when he got to Sea Lots, he saw the three others and heard one of them say he had shot the man on the boat. They went their separate ways and on November 4, Clement was arrested and he told police he heard his friends talking about taking weed from a boat and decided to go along.
They took a boat across to the wharf and encountered a man urinating on a tractor and held him up. They then went to the boats and were searching for the marijuana while two others were in another boat.
While he was searching, Clement said, he heard shots and ran, hiding near the sea. He then dived into the water and swam back to Sea lots where he went home.
The security guard identified Clement as the man who hit him with the gun, but did not identify Francois.
After they were charged, Francois, when cautioned, blurted out, “Oh God, is not I shoot the man.” Clement only wanted the police to contact his mother.
The State was represented by prosecutor Hema Soondarsingh.