A TOBAGO man has successfully challenged his conviction in 2019 for a murder ten years earlier.
However, Peter Radgman will face a new trial. He has also been advised to hold discussions with the Director of Public Prosecutions on having the murder charge reduced to manslaughter.
In May 2019, Radgman was convicted of murdering Kooldip “Rishi” Maharaj.
Maharaj was smothered with a polo shirt and beaten to death with a crowbar at Radgman’s apartment at Allfield Trace, Lowlands, Tobago on June 13, 2009, after the two men got into a fight. At the trial, there was evidence that Radgman had been drinking before the incident.
On Wednesday, Justices Alice Yorke-Soo Hon, Gregory Smith and Vasheist Kokaram allowed Radgman’s appeal and quashed his conviction and the death sentence.
Although at his appeal, argued by his attorney Bindra Dolsingh, he advanced ten grounds of protest against the trial judge's handling of the case, Radgman, also known as Slap Eye, was only successful on two.
The first – ground five – related to the failure of the judge to explain properly to the jury that if they found Radgman had engaged in a “frenzied attack” on Maharaj, it was not necessarily inconsistent with the defence of provocation.
While he was successful on this ground, the judges said they could not fault the trial judge for failing to give the direction to the jury, as the Court of Appeal only provided judges with additional guidance on the defence of provocation in June, in the case of Shawn Marcellin versus the State. At his retrial, the judge will have to apply the principles set out in the Marcellin case.
Radgman’s second successful ground dealt with the judge’s allowance of “bad character” evidence of alleged similar behaviour as evidence of propensity.
In their ruling, the judges said, “We are of the view that the appellant might have killed the deceased during a frenzied attack...
"In our view, there was evidence which was capable of supporting a frenzied attack by the appellant and as such the jury ought to have been so directed.
“In directing a jury on the words ‘do as he did’ in the context of a frenzied attack, they should have been told that ‘do as he did’ did not mean that the reasonable man would have acted in the exact manner as the appellant did but rather whether the circumstances which confronted him caused him to form an intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm.
“It was not a question as to the reasonableness or proportionality of the injuries to the gravity of the provocation, but rather whether, in the circumstances, a reasonable man would have formed the requisite intention.”
The State was represented by acting Director of Public Prosecutions Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal. In her submissions in support of the retrial, Dougdeen-Jaglal said even with the new direction, it was not a foregone conclusion that it would result in a manslaughter verdict. She suggested Radgman’s attorneys hold discussions with the DPP on the issue.
Radgman was also represented by Chris Seelochan and David Carter.