Wife killer appeals life sentence

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Gavin Gill and Omwattie Gill

Taxi driver Gavin Gill of Whim, Corentyne, Berbice, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), who pleaded guilty to viciously chopping and stabbing his 21-year-old wife to death and was sentenced to life imprisonment earlier this month, has now moved to have the jail term overturned.

At the Court of Appeal, the 33-year-old Gavin Gill is arguing that the sentence is too severe.

A father of three, Gill was sentenced by Justice Sandil Kissoon at the Berbice High Court after he pleaded guilty to murdering his wife Omwattie Gill on March 30, 2019 at Tulsie Street, Williamsburg Village, Corentyne, Berbice.

Apart from arguing that the sentence is too severe, Gill – who must serve 30 years before becoming eligible for parole – is contending that Justice Kissoon considered irrelevant factors, failed to consider mitigating factors, and/or did not give such factors the appropriate consideration when imposing the sentence.

According to Gill, Justice Kissoon also failed to properly exercise his discretion in not giving him a one-third deduction for his early guilty plea, and did not properly apply the deduction of time spent on remand to him, as is required by case law.

On the day in question, Omwattie Gill, the young woman who had shared a child with Gavin Gill, was making her way to work when she was attacked by Gavin Gill. He first hit her with a vehicle he was driving, which pitched her about 25 feet, before he stabbed and then chopped her with a cutlass. Her neck was almost severed.

She had moved out of their matrimonial home with their then seven-month-old baby girl after he had become very abusive. Two weeks before her death, she was living with her mother and had found employment. A post mortem examination gave her cause of death as shock and haemorrhage due to stab wounds.

At this sentencing hearing, Gavin Gill had professed his love for his wife. “I love my wife so much. I’m sorry for what happened…” he cried. During an interview with a probation officer, he expressed regret for his actions, and sought forgiveness from his late wife’s family. He said he was sorry that his daughter would have to live without her mother, and expressed hope that she would forgive him when she is older.

Meanwhile, a probation report revealed that the couple had been experiencing problems, and had visited the probation office in Berbice, seeking help with saving their marriage.
Omwattie Gill had complained that her husband was an alcoholic who would borrow large sums of money from friends to support his bad habit. She also reported that her husband would ask her to pawn her jewellery, including her wedding band, to assist with repaying his debts.

She said that, on many days, she and their child were left without basic needs.
The probation officer revealed that the now dead woman was constantly threatened by her husband, which had prompted her to take out a restraining order against him.

Justice Kissoon, in his sentencing remarks, had noted that the protection order was rendered meaningless by the actions and blatant disregard for the court order by Gavin Gill. The Judge described the young woman’s killing as a planned and premeditated act.

“The history of the relationship prior to this murderous act does not bode well for the accused [Gavin Gill]. This accused pawned everything within the matrimonial home to support his vile habit of alcoholism. This accused has pleaded guilty in the deliberate, passionate killing of his wife without lawful cause,” the Judge said.

Justice Kissoon had told Gavin Gill that due to his reckless and irresponsible actions, his young child is now left without both of her parents. The Judge told the killer that, in his eyes, his wife was without any rights.

According to Justice Kissoon, this case is of concern to the court, given the overwhelming number of cases of this nature arising from intimate partner violence. Moreover, he said that Gavin Gill had shown no genuine remorse.

The Judge pointed out that he viewed Gill’s guilty plea as “strategic” in light of the overwhelming evidence against him, and also made it clear that there is nothing the killer can tell him to persuade the court to have mercy on him.

As it stands, Gavin Gill must serve 30 years before he becomes eligible for parole. In the computation of his sentence, the High Court Judge ordered that the prison authorities credit him for time spent on remand.