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Coast Guardsmen charged for murder of gold dealer

-relatives 

Hours before Dweive Kant Ramdass was laid to rest yesterday, three Coast Guards who allegedly strangled him to death before robbing him of $17M, appeared at the Vreed-en-Hoop Magistrates’ Court charged with murder.
Three of their relatives who were reportedly caught with the stolen money were also in the court, which was packed with teary eyed relatives and curious onlookers.
In shackles and handcuffs, Guyana Defence Force ranks Sherwyn Harte, 26, of Lot 123 Block C Eccles, East Bank Demerara, Delon Gordon, 21, of Lot 108 C Field, Sophia and Deon Greenidge, 20, of Lot 166 Middle Road, La Penitence stood silently before Magis-trate Judy Latchman as the charge was read to them.

Heavy security: The van with the accused moments after it arrived at the Vreed-en-Hoop Magistrate’s Court. The police present refused to allow the media to video tape and snap photographs of the men. At one point a rank threaten to throw the media out of the compound.

They were not required to plead to the charge, which alleges that they murdered Ramdass, a gold dealer between August 20 and August 22 at Caiman Hole, East Bank Essequibo. Minutes later, the magistrate read separate charges to Shawn Ageda, 22, who is  Harte’s brother and lives at the same Eccles address; Yvonne Beckles, 39, who is related to Greenidge and lives at the same address; and Viola Adolphus, 32, who is Gordon’s sister and lives at the same Sophia address. They were each charged for being accessories to the Coast Guardsmen and it is alleged that they aided them. They were not allowed to plead to the charges after it was read.
Adolphus was the only accused represented and despite a lengthy bail application by her lawyer, Hukumchand, she was remanded. As the lawyer was making his application, tears flowed from her eyes and she appeared to be praying.

Hukumchand had noted that his client was charged for a bailable offence. He stated that Adolphus, a mother of two operates a day care at her home in Sophia, where her mother also resides. He further pointed out that she takes care of her siblings as she is the eldest.

Relating to the court what took place on August 20, when his client was arrested, the counsel said that her brother, Delon Gordon, had received $12, 500 from the parent of one of the children she cares for. Gordon, he said, called her to come and collect the money. At times, Gordon would want his client to launder his clothing or take them home, Hukumchand told the court and she would assist in this.

On the day in question, Gordon called Adolphus to collect the money and the clothing and when she arrived, the counsel said, he handed over a bag but not the money. She did not open the bag since she assumed that it was clothing and as she was leaving the wharf, police came and escorted her to the station.

Hukumchand said that when they opened the bag, they found “something” and again stated that his client did not know what the contents of the bag were. He stated that at this stage of the matter, Adolphus is denying the charge, pointing out that she has an unblemished character.

The entire family, he further said is bent on serving the public as another sibling is a member of the Guyana Police Force.
The lawyer stressed that his client is not a flight risk and urged the court “to separate emotions from principles that ought to guide us in granting bail.”
In response, Police prosecutor Sherwin Matthews said that the court must recognise the offence for which Adolphus is charged as a serious one although it is bailable. He asked that bail be refused due to the serious nature of the charge and more so that there is a likelihood that she would not return as she did not live in that area, where the matter is being heard. Matthews pointed out that the woman had the opportunity to discover what was in the bag that she was fetching as she was already leaving the area when she was held. He later told the court that money was in the bag.

Looking a bit upset, Hukcumchand responded that offences such as firearm possession, narcotics and murder are not bailable but are serious. He again stressed that the section under which his client has been charged provides for bail to be granted and that the presumption of innocence stands in her favour.
After listening to both sides, the magistrate refused bail, saying the fact that Adolphus is a mother of two may prevent her from returning to court.
The magistrate said that she came to the decision to refuse bail, blindfolded, free of emotion, based on the presumption of innocence and in the interest of the accused.
The other defendants-who were all well-attired, save for Greenidge, who was barefeet-said nothing during the hearing. They stood at attention and occasionally bowed their heads. Even as they were leaving the courtroom they made every effort to avoid eye contact. One young man burst into tears as they passed him. Tears also flowed from some females, one of whom was surprised when the magistrate refused bail for Adolphus. One woman let out a loud scream as the group passed her outside the courtroom and she was quickly taken away.

 

When the prisoners arrived at the court just after 11 am yesterday, they were escorted by heavily armed ranks from the Tactical Services Unit. The ranks refused to allow the media present to video tape and take pictures of the accused, who were in a prison van.

At one time, a rank threatened to put the media out of the compound if members did not desist. The van was later driven out of the compound and reversed right up to the entrance leading to the lockups where the media could not see them clearly.
The matter will continue September 24 at the Leonora Magistrates’ Court.

Police were initially investigating a robbery/abduction, reporting that Ramdass of Third Avenue, Bartica ha lockups where the media could not see them clearly.
The matter will continue September 24 at the Leonora Magistrates’ Court.
Police were initially investigating a robbery/abduction, reporting that Ramdass of Third Avenue, Bartica had been abducted by three men in uniform similar to that of the Coast Guard in a boat in the Essequibo River. The police said that seven persons had been arrested and $12.7M recovered, of which $4.3M was unaccounted for. This development led to the arrest of two policemen, who are still in custody pending investigations into the money outstanding.

The three ranks, according to information received, had admitted during interrogation that they had strangled Ramdass before dumping him in the river.

Ramdass was on his way to Bartica with the money in a box to conduct business for his employer when he was taken off a boat he was in at Parika by three ranks in a Coast Guard vessel. The vessel left with the man heading in the direction of Bartica and that was the last time he was seen alive.

After the coast guards were arrested they were taken to the area where they had told investigators that they had dumped Ramdass but nothing was found. Early Saturday morning, his battered body clad only in briefs was discovered at Caiman Hole by a fisherman. Due to the state of the body a post mortem was done on Sunday and revealed that he died from asphyxiation. Chief-of-Staff, Gary Best during discussions with family members, agreed to pay the funeral expenses.