68-year-old man walks free after spending four years on remand
From the Courts
November 27, 2012

68-year-old man walks free after spending four years on remand

After being sentenced to four years in jail for manslaughter on Friday, Alban Thomas — in the company of his wife — walked back to Her Majesty’s Prison, not to serve his sentence, but to gather his belongings and go home.{{more}}

Having already served four years on remand, Justice Frederick Bruce-Lyle’s sentence meant that Thomas was automatically a free man.

Earlier this year, Thomas, a 68-year-old shop owner, who was initially charged with murder, pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter for the March 22, 2008 killing of Edgerton Richards Jr, 42, of Brighton.

The court heard that on the day before the incident, the deceased, who was mentally ill, came to Thomas’ shop demanding money Thomas allegedly owed him.

The deceased began vandalising the shop.

Thomas then made a report to the police that same day and asked that they warn the deceased to desist from such actions.

The following day, at approximately 7:15 a.m., the deceased returned with a gun and again, began vandalising the shop.

Thomas then left the shop, at which time the deceased went into the shop’s cooler and began distributing drinks to passers-by.

Thomas then returned to the shop and a struggle ensued, during which the deceased was disarmed and shot.

Richards was driven to the Barrouallie clinic, where he later died.

Thomas’ son, Percival Thomas, was also charged in connection with Richards’ death, but the charge against him was withdrawn earlier this year.

In mitigation, counsel for the older Thomas, Ronald Marks, told the court that since his incarceration in April 2008, his client’s health has deteriorated.

Marks disclosed that Thomas had suffered a fractured hip and developed degenerative arthritis on both sides of the hip and added that it would continue to deteriorate without aggressive therapy.

“He has shown great remorse for his actions. He has not proceeded in defending the case. Nothing will be addressed by imposing any further sentence,” Marks added.

Marks stated that his client may have had an arguable case of self-defence and further added that there was a “stark” absence of aggravating factors.

“Mr Thomas has paid his debt to society. He has paid for a life lost. Nothing can replace a life and we are not trivialising human life. Let this be the day Mrs Thomas walk out of court with her husband and let her take care of him…”

Thomas’ wife wept openly in the courtroom, as her husband sat quietly in the dock.

Justice Bruce-Lyle, in his response, said if the case were negotiated on both sides a long time ago, Thomas would not have been there today.

“It baffles me, that in this day of sophisticated communication, counsel can’t talk. This is something where the system fails. The same issues addressed here could have been addressed at the Preliminary Inquiry … some years ago, this would not have reached here,” Bruce-Lyle said.

The judge further said that even though a firearm was used, it was used in “extreme provocation”.

“The deceased threatened him and told him if he didn’t get his money he was coming back to kill them. These kinds of cases need prompt response from the police. Nowadays, people are not afraid to make good on their threat…” the judge added.

The judge firmly stated that deceased persons who are the architects of their own demise will have no sympathy in his court.

“There’s no need to punish him. The court sees it fit not to impose any further sentence,” the judge said. (KW)