AN Appeal Court panel, in throwing out the appeal of Kayode Garwood — the Manchester man who was in 2017 convicted for slaughtering Tareek Gregory, the 11-year-old brother of his girlfriend —last Friday rubbished the arguments of his attorney that the pre-parole period of 26 years was “manifestly excessive”, stating that a minimum pre-parole sentence of up to 29 years would in fact have been ‘appropriate’.
Garwood, following a trial in the Manchester Circuit Court, before Justice Chester Stamp sitting with a jury, was sentenced to life imprisonment without eligibility for parole before serving 26 years in November 2017 for the murder. In mounting the appeal, attorney for Garwood, Donald Gittens, while not disputing the life sentence, expressed displeasure with the pre-parole period and argued among other things, that the confession was unfairly taken from his client and was procured by oppression and pressure and that the sentenced was manifestly excessive.
On Friday, the Appeal Court said “the manner in which Tareek was ambushed and murdered in his own home by the applicant, aided by the child’s own sister, was more vicious, and calls for a higher starting point than that which was applied in that case”.
“Avoiding any possibility of double counting, but taking account of aggravating features such as the obvious premeditation; the apparent motive; the unauthorised entry into the house; the murderous attack in what should have been the sanctity of the child’s home; the child’s knowledge of his impending death and his futile fight to save himself; and the prevalence of murder in our society, there would have to be an upward adjustment of the starting point to a period of 40 years,” the Appeal Court said.
Continuing further it said, “applying the mitigating factors identified in the case, such as the applicant’s age; the absence of previous convictions; the reported expression of remorse for the killing; and the positive community report, this would result in a downward adjustment to the starting point resulting in a period of 35 years. Taking into account the six years for time spent on pre-trial remand, a minimum pre-parole sentence of up to 29 years would have been appropriate for the learned trial judge to impose. It is, therefore, clear, that the sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole before serving 26 years, imposed by the learned trial judge, is by no means manifestly excessive.
“For the reasons we have expressed, there is no proper basis on which to disturb the verdict of the jury and the sentence imposed by the learned trial judge. The application for leave to appeal is, therefore, refused. The sentence is to be reckoned as having commenced on 2 November 2017, the date on which it was imposed,” the Appeal Court ruled.
According to the evidence led during the trial, Gregory died from injuries he sustained when he was attacked at his home on September 12, 2011 at New Roads District, Harmon, Manchester. Gregory who had just returned home from school and was still clad in his uniform was lured into a back room, where his throat was cut, and he was suffocated and stabbed several times. The child’s body was discovered by his mother and older brother. The post-mortem report noted that, among other things, the pathologist had observed stab and incised wounds to Gregory’s body, one to the neck and two to the chest. The cause of death was noted to be the incised wound to the neck.
Garwood, who was the boyfriend of Tareek’s older sister, Deneisha Gregory, was charged, along with her, with Tareek’s murder.
The prosecution’s case hinged largely on Garwood’s confession to the police, made orally and in a written caution statement, that he and his girlfriend had committed the crime. In what was described as a “very detailed” statement, Garwood outlined the nature of his relationship with her as well as the tumultuous relationship she had with her mother. He said the girl had asked him to help her kill her mother, father and brother because they did not love her, and that after they were all dead the house would belong to both of them.