By DARREN BAHAW, Express TT
FRANKIE BOODRAM’S life in the fast lane came to a screeching stop yesterday after he was sentenced to five years jail with hard labour.
Boodram, 56, a former ace racing car driver and automotive parts dealer, was found guilty by a majority verdict of 8-1 on February 26 of receiving parts belonging to a stolen vehicle, knowing they were stolen.
The same jury found Boodram not guilty of stealing a Mazda 4x4 pick-up belonging to Clint Batchasingh on April 22, 2000. Seven parts belonging to the stolen vehicle were found at the San Juan branch of Speedway Auto Supplies by members of the Stolen Vehicles Squad on April 25, 2000.
His lawyers filed an appeal against the conviction yesterday and will be seeking to get their client out of jail as soon as possible, on bail, pending the hearing of the appeal.
Justice Paula Mae Weekes, presiding in the Port of Spain First Criminal Court, Hall of Justice postponed sentencing to yesterday, giving the defence an opportunity to provide further testimony of Boodram’s good character.
Boodram’s wife, Jasmine, screamed out as the sentence was imposed and had to be consoled by two of her daughters who sat at her side. Her son, Franklyn, will now have to continue the family business, Speedway Auto Supplies' chain of outlets.
In passing sentence, the judge said it has often been said “the receiver is worse than the thief” and without a market for stolen car parts there would be less cars stolen.
The judge said while some cars are stolen to be used for joyrides, or by criminals in the pursuance of their criminal acts, the vast majority were stolen and picked apart and used for component parts.
She said it was of no concern to the court if Boodram's business empire would come tumbling down or whether his workers would lose their jobs as a result of his incarceration.
She said the court had to be even-handed in sentencing persons and had a duty to deter other persons, especially those in the legitimate car parts business.
The judge agreed with the defence that Boodram’s conviction was “an aberration on his part”.
His family, including daughter, entertainer Sharlene Boodram and her sister, Allison, a pediatrician, flew in from the United States Thursday to be at his side and were moved to tears while trying to convince the judge not to send their father to prison.
“If we trust in the Lord miracles can happen and that is what we are hoping for today,” Sharlene said.
Allison, said her father came from a background of poverty and misfortune adding that “bad things happen every day to good people”.
Senior Counsel Israel Khan, who appeared with attorney Dawn Mohan, pleaded with the judge:
“If you can find it in your heart to swim upstream on this occasion and put him on a bond. If he commits any offence (during the period of the bond) sentence him to (ten years) the maximum sentence for this offence.”
He said Boodram was not a man who was involved in the “car thiefing business and now get caught”.
Khan urged the judge not to be swayed by public opinion, adding that while the incidence of car stealing in this country was high, car stealing would continue if Boodram was sent to jail.
He called three other witnesses —Vishnu Mangalsingh; Cecil Walker, a retired public servant; and former sport minister Marilyn Gordon—who all testified to Boodram’s generosity and commitment to the sport of car racing.
Khan also presented a petition bearing 120 signatures and almost 20 testimonials to the court trying to keep his client out of jail.
State attorneys Nalini Singh and Debby Ann Bassaw led the prosecution’s case.
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