Women's Issues In Guyana

Late, absent police witnesses disrupt Neesa Gopaul murder PI

Posted in Domestic Violence,Judicial by wiig on January 12, 2011

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 12 January 2011)

The preliminary inquiry (PI) into the murder of schoolgirl Neesa Gopaul was interrupted yesterday as the witness undergoing cross-examination was late to the hearing, while two others were absent.

Acting Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry issued an arrest warrant for Inspector of Police Joel David, Corporal Laundry and Assistant Superintendant Jessamy, who are all attached to the Brickdam Police Station.

Prosecutor Robert Tyndall requested an adjournment since the men were absent. Defence attorneys Vic Puran and Bernard De Santos, however, objected, arguing that the prosecution had failed to advance legitimate reasons as to why an adjournment should be granted.

De Santos argued that granting of an adjournment is not an automatic process, but one that should be accompanied by legal principles. According to Puran, the request was made in bad faith and he contended that the behaviour of the prosecution should not be countenanced by the court. He then made a submission that based on the absence of the witnesses, the matter against his client Bibi Shariman Gopaul be discharged.

Both Puran and De Santos, who said that they saw David in the courtyard moments before the case was called, argued that it was a deliberate attempt by the prosecution to delay the continuation of the PI. “The witnesses knew that they were required to attend court today [yesterday], and David was here so why did he leave?” Puran questioned.

Both attorneys argued strongly against an adjournment being granted on the grounds  not only that it would cause an “unnecessary delay” in the progress of the matter but also on the grounds that the court has never been sympathetic towards them on occasions when they were late or failed to make an appearance for the matter. “The court had always moved ahead with the matter and granted adjournments when one or both lawyers were either absent or late. Not once has it waited on us,” De Santos argued.

Puran, infuriated at the prosecutor’s continued call for an adjournment, pointed out that the witnesses, all stationed at the Brickdam Police Station, were only a phone call and less than 10 minutes away. “This unacceptable behaviour by the prosecution leads to a deliberate frustration of the PI,” he exclaimed.

Magistrate Sewnarine-Beharry then immediately dismissed Tyndall’s request and ordered him to produce the witnesses within a short while.

Tyndall returned to the courtroom in less than 15 minutes with a smiling David calmly strutting behind. The prosecutor then reported to the magistrate that Laundry and Jessamy were on their way and would have been at court shortly after; the duo, however, never showed up.

After David’s appearance, the PI into the matter continued with him taking to the witness box for continued cross-examination by Puran.

The matter will be called again on January 18.

Six of 27 witnesses have so far taken to the witness box and testified.

Bibi Sharima Gopaul and her lover Jarvis Small were charged with the teen’s murder.

The allegation is that between September 24 and October 2 at Madewini, Linden-Soesdyke Highway, Bibi Sharima Gopaul and Small, both of 13 Public Road Leonora, West Coast Demerara, murdered Neesa Gopaul. The girl’s body was stuffed into a suitcase, which was discovered by a group of picnickers on October 2, anchored in the creek at the Emerald Tower Resort.


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