By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A MAN sentenced to life in prison for murdering a cashier at his family’s food store in the course of an armed robbery on a Family Island a decade ago is seeking to legally contest his conviction.
Lavardo Rahming appeared before appellate Justices Stella Crane-Scott, Roy Jones, and Milton Evans (acting) concerning his appeal of being found guilty of murdering Brendon Dion Strachan in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, in 2008.
Yesterday, the court heard arguments on two grounds: whether Rahming’s confession should be excluded as evidence and whether the alternative verdict of manslaughter should have been left to the jury.
However, the court reserved its decision and adjourned the matter to a later date.
According to previous reports, Strachan was a cashier at the family’s M&R Food Store when he was shot inside the storeroom.
According to a Privy Council ruling, the robbery was carried out at the food store in question by two men, each armed with a handgun, in the late afternoon of November 27, 2008.
They demanded the contents of the register from Strachan. However, when Strachan did not cooperate, he was chased into a rear storeroom where he was shot.
The two gunmen then escaped with the contents of the register, estimated by the storeowner to be some $1,300. Later, with the assistance of the accomplice, the police recovered two handguns, a 9mm and a .38.
Four spent ammunition casings were also found near Strachan’s body in the storeroom, and were matched to the recovered firearms. Three bullets came from the .38, while one came from the 9mm.
Strachan had two gunshot wounds, both apparently sustained at close range. One was a graze across the right chest, and the other, which was the cause of death, entered his left lower abdomen and “traversed” his body before exiting in the area of his right shoulder blade.
The Crown’s case at the time was that the two gunmen were Rahming and his friend Shavargo McPhee. They both lived in Nassau and had travelled to Abaco the day before the robbery.
They were arrested together at the airport when about to leave Abaco for Nassau on the morning after the robbery.
Both Rahming and McPhee were initially tried together with others said to have been involved in Strachan’s murder, one of whom was the “accomplice witness” CJ Edgecombe.
Edgecombe had asserted that he drove Rahming and McPhee to and from the robbery, and disposed of the guns and some clothing following the incident in question.
Two other persons, referred to as “Timer” Russell and “Mills” in the PC ruling, were not alleged to be at the scene by the Crown but were indicted on their alleged complicity in planning the offence or helping to transport and accommodate Rahming and McPhee before the incident.
However, the Crown abandoned the case against Mills during the trial, while Russell was acquitted by the jury.
Rahming, meanwhile, absconded shortly before the end of the trial, and was convicted by the jury in his absence.
Both Rahming and McPhee were ultimately sentenced to life in prison for Strachan’s murder.
A year later, McPhee unsuccessfully appealed his conviction on the basis that the judge should not have admitted his confession statement into evidence given that it had not been voluntarily obtained.
In 2016, however, the London-based Privy Council quashed McPhee’s murder conviction, citing the failure of police detectives to properly adhere to the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s own guidelines concerning the treatment and questioning of juveniles in custody as the reason.