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Life sentence for Louis Gillett

GeneralLife sentence for Louis Gillett

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. May 16, 2024

Louis Gillett was convicted of the senseless murder of well-known businessman Alvin Godfrey, who on April 29, 2003, was shot in the face whilst at his shop in the Kings Park area.

The senior citizen and upstanding member of his community fought for his life but lost the battle and succumbed to his injuries on June 5, 2003, 1 month 1 week after the shooting, due to complications he suffered as a result of the face shot.

Gillett was one of the two robbers who shot Godfrey while attempting to force the store owner to give them the cash in the establishment but ended up fleeing without getting the money he entered the store to steal. He was convicted and found guilty of murder 20 years ago and had been sentenced to life imprisonment.

When that sentence was handed down twenty years ago, no set prison time was given to Gillett, but this week, two decades later, Gillett now knows that his life sentence means he will have to serve 29 years and 2 months behind bars before he is eligible for parole.

Yesterday, Justice Nigel Pilgrim of the High Court was tasked to decide the specific amount of time that Gillette would have to spend behind bars in order to complete his life sentence.

And while Louis has already served more than half of his 29-year-2 month- term that was handed down by the court, it was noted that although he is also already eligible for parole, after twenty years in jail, Gillett has shown little evidence of rehabilitation, with only enrollment into one program at the Kolbe Foundation’s Belize Central Prison; and so Justice Pilgrim told him that for his remaining years he should enroll in other programs, which could be helpful for him when he decides to approach the parole board for an early release.

Justice Pilgrim looked at the facts of the case regarding the murder of Godfrey.

At about 5:30 p.m., on Tuesday, April 29, 2003, Alvin Godfrey was at the cashier’s drawer in his shop, known as Godfrey’s Shopping Center, situated on 6th Street in the Kings Park area, along with Ms. Sylvia Succuqui, who was also behind the counter in the shop. But, according to the facts, as Succuqui was attending to a customer, a young man entered the shop and ordered two bottles of Guinness Stout.

The man, who was dressed only in a black shorts, entered and stood in front of the counter. Succuqui then went to get the stout, and whilst standing at the door, she saw the first young man go behind the counter and order Godfrey, who was at the cashier’s drawer, to “open” It.

That’s when Godfrey said, “No boy; no boy.”

At this point, Gillett, while holding a gun in his hand, also ordered Godfrey to open the cash drawer.

Without waiting for him to respond to his order, the gunman then aimed the gun at Godfrey’s face and fired a shot.

The two men, after Godfrey was shot, ran out of the shop, and Godfrey, after being shot, fell to the ground.

A post-mortem on the body of Godfrey was conducted by Dr. Mario Estradabran, who said he found an irregular dark coloration, characteristic of a scar due to a projectile from a firearm, on the upper right maxilla of Godfrey’s body, and concluded that he died from pulmonary thromboembolism due to bilateral pneumonia as a consequence of facial firearm injury.

Justice Pilgrim also looked at the aggravating and the mitigating factors of the offense.

Those aggravating factors included the fact that a firearm was used, the aim to the head, and the brutal nature of the murder. Additionally, it was noted that there was an underlying motive of gain, as the murder took place during the robbery of a hardworking businessman; that the offense violated the sanctity of the deceased’s home, as his business was located in his home; that the offense was committed with others, and the court needs to deter crimes committed by groups; and murder is a very serious and prevalent offense in Belize, which needs to be deterred.

Justice Pilgrim also took into consideration the Victim Impact Statement (v/c) in which Godfrey’s son, Gregory Godfrey said, “The impact of the violent act committed against our father, Alvin Godfrey, over two decades ago continues to affect and haunt our family to this day. The emotional wounds inflicted by the shooting have never fully healed, leaving a lasting scar that has shaped our lives in profound ways. Our family’s sense of security was shattered that day.”

And in finding a starting point, the court looked at the sentencing range for murder, which is between 25-37 years, unless there are ameliorating factors which necessitate a fixed term.

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