Husband sentenced to four years for torching wife
Stabroek News
July 10, 2001

Justice Yonette Cummings last week sentenced a husband to four years imprisonment after Senior Probation and Welfare Officer Arnold Mickle revealed that Gopaul Harrack aka Sohan, who pleaded guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter, reportedly quelled many of the verbal battles he encountered with his wife by leaving the home for short periods.

Last week, the judge had ordered a probation report on the accused in the Upper Corentyne manslaughter trial, after listening to mitigation pleas from his lawyer Mursaline Bacchus. Harrack on June 7, last had pleaded not guilty, but later changed his plea to guilty at the Berbice Assizes. State Prosecutor Simone Bullen stated that on March 22, 1996, the accused had an altercation with Sattie Harrack, his wife, over her refusal to prepare chicken cutters for customers at their Number 67 Village, liquor restaurant.

He became annoyed at her unwillingness, and began preparing the dish himself. A scuffle ensued and the accused flung the lighted stove on his wife.

She suffered first and second degree burns to the face, anterior chest, back and upper extremities. Cause of death was due to inhalation of fire fumes. Bullen stated that in his caution statement it was revealed that restaurant proprietor had a group of men drinking in his establishment and his wife consistently interfered with one of the individuals who was drinking. She had allegedly repeatedly told the individual that he must go home as he had a wife and a baby, although she was warned to leave the customer alone. Bacchus related that the incident was an unfortunate one and was not preceded by any unlawful act on the part of his client, but merely his desire to serve his patrons, nevertheless, it resulted in the death of his wife, with whom he shared a union for 30 years.

The lawyer revealed that on record before the court the accused made a valiant attempt to extinguish the flames from which he suffered burns to both arms, and described the act as that of foolishness and not premeditated.

He stated that the accused had an 80-year-old mother whom he maintained, along with a daughter and her three children who were evicted from her matrimonial home because of this incident. He said his client had shown remorse and atonement and had thrown himself at the mercy of the court.