More than a decade after he murdered his estranged wife Babita Sarjou, and buried her in a shallow grave next to his home, 45-year-old Shradhanand Narine called “Anand”, was on Thursday, handed a jail sentence of 22-and-a-half years, minus time served, which is amounts to seven-and-a-half years.
The former Seaforth Street, Campbellville, Georgetown resident’s accomplice and friend, Daral Ponton, 41, also known as “Yankee”, was on the other hand, sent to prison for 18-and-a-half years for years. He, too, was credited for time spent in pre-trial detention.
On Monday, February 6, the pair had appeared before Demerara High Court Judge Simone Morris-Ramlall, before whom State prosecutors presented a joint indictment for the capital offence of murder against them.
The duo had both pleaded not guilty causing a jury to be empanelled. However, as their case proceeded, and after consulting with their respective lawyers, they had both opted to plead guilty to the charge, and as such, the presiding Judge, on Thursday, directed the 12 jurors to return unanimous guilty verdicts in favour of each of them.
Narine was represented by Attorney-at-Law Siand Dhurjon and Ponton by Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes and other lawyers from the law firm, Hughes, Fields and Stoby.
Shradhanand Narine and Daral Ponton
Back in 2017, the duo was committed to stand trial in the High Court for the murder of 28-year-old Sarjou, whose body was dug up from a shallow grave in her estranged husband’s yard in May 2016 – some six years after she went missing.
Narine and Ponton, formerly of Lot 54 Broad Street, Charlestown, Georgetown were charged with murder shortly after the gruesome discovery.
In relating the facts, State prosecutors had revealed that Narine and his partner began experiencing marital problems in 2009, which led to publishing nude photos of her at her place of employment.
The couple’s relationship went on a downward spiral from there, with Narine meeting with Ponton in October 2010 at a location on D’Urban Street, Georgetown, to hatch a plan to kill his wife.
As part of the plan, they had lured the woman from her Timehri, East Bank Demerara (EBD) home to Homestretch Avenue, Georgetown on November 4, 2010—the eve of Diwali.Sarjou had left home to view the annual Diwali motorcade with her estranged husband and son.
When Sarjou arrived in the vicinity of the National Cultural Centre (NCC), she met Narine and Ponton sitting in Narine’s car. The couple’s then four-year-old son was also in the vehicle.
As Sarjou reached into the car to grab her son, Narine tricked her into getting into the car by telling her that something was wrong with the vehicle.
He then exited the vehicle with his son, leaving Ponton and his wife behind. He then ordered Ponton to choke his wife and instructed him to honk the vehicle’s horn when he was done.
They then covered her lifeless body with a blanket and transported it to Narine’s Seaforth Street, Campbellville, Georgetown home. While there, the pair buried her body in a shallow grave that had already been dug next to Narine’s yard, days before the killing.
They also used mud and cement to conceal her body.
According to the prosecutors, Narine, in his caution statement, had told Police detectives that he paid Ponton, his friend, $100,000 as part payment to kill Sarjou.
In the caution statement, he had also relayed that his wife was unfaithful and was causing him embarrassment and that that was the reason for him wanting her dead.
Ponton, however, in a similar statement, claimed he was only rewarded $50,000.
When Sarjou did not return home, Narine was questioned as the two were known to be experiencing problems in their marriage as several domestic violence reports were lodged at the Police station. Sarjou’s family had reported her missing to the Police.
For years, the case remained inactive as investigators hit a stumbling block.
The case was, however, reopened in 2016 after Police received information about what may have happened to Sarjou.
Narine, who was released after Police had no solid evidence against him, was picked up in 2016 and taken back into custody for further interrogation, during which he confessed to killing her and subsequently led investigators to the spot where he buried Sarjou aback his home.
After hours of digging in Narine’s yard, the team led by Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum dug up a skull, several bones, a pair of high-heeled shoes, a brassiere, and bits of clothing, all belonging to the dead woman. DNA tests confirmed that the remains were indeed Sarjou’s.Her cause of death was given as inconclusive.