Woman begs for release of brother on death row
- after 22 years in jail
By Dale Andrews
Relatives of convicted murderer Noel Thomas have written to President Bharrat Jagdeo pleading for his release from death row.
Thomas along with Abdool Saleem Yassin of the famous Yassin/Thomas duo, had warrants for their execution read in 1996.
The other inmate has since died in prison and Thomas who has spent the better part of 22 years on Death Row has reportedly expressed remorse for his crime.
The action to have his death sentence commuted was taken by his reputed wife Grace Moore and his sister Carol Thomas, who resides in St. Maarten.
The death row inmate’s sister visited him two Thursdays ago during a recent visit to Guyana.
“He was alright. He said he just feel like giving up because he just getting frustrated,” Carol Thomas told this newspaper.
Noel Thomas, who is now 50 years old, was charged along with Yassin for murder on March 19, 1987, and were both convicted on June 2 of the following year.
There were two retrials, in October 1994 and December 1992.
But these did not change the men’s fates.
An appeal was heard in 1994 and despite the arguments of their attorneys, they lost.
They were supposed to be executed in 1996, but before this could happen, their attorneys wrote to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and there was a temporary stay.
Then in 1999, another warrant for their execution was read, but legal hurdles have put the executions in limbo.
Since then, Thomas, a father of two, who is now visually impaired has been languishing in jail, knowing that at any time his day could come.
According to his reputed wife, Grace Moore, although his children hardly know him, they would ask about him from time to time.
She said that his son who is now 23 years old has visited him in prison once.
The woman said that Thomas too would enquire about the children.
Both she and his sister believe that he has suffered enough having been awaiting execution for more than a decade.
In a recent interview with this newspaper, Carol Thomas who has been living outside of Guyana for the past 15 years said that she still keeps an interest in her brother’s matter.
“Last year I started doing some running around because it seemed like nobody was looking at him. Maybe he would die in jail,” Thomas told this newspaper.
She said that she had contacted the attorneys who were handling the matter and one of them had visited her brother about two months ago.
The woman said that she was of the belief that the government would normally commute the sentences of those condemned after a certain number of years served. However this was not the case.
“I heard that they were to be released on Independence Day. I went to Erskine (Director of Prisons) and Freedom House all.”
Nothing positive happened for her condemned brother.
While many believe that the government should go ahead and resume hangings, Carol Thomas feels that her brother deserves a new lease on life.
She acknowledged that her brother did commit a despicable act, but opined “he needs to come out.”
“I think that he has already paid his due. Right now I need my brother to come with me, I will take care of him,” said Carol Thomas.
According to her, Noel Thomas is her father’s son and they were always close.
She said that she would visit him in prison every time she comes to Guyana.
“The last time I saw him, I didn’t like how he is looking at all. He would always cry. He told me that he did not know himself (when he committed the crime).
He said he didn’t know why he did it. He told me that if the clock could turn back he would never do something like that again,” Carol Thomas related.
She said that the prison could hardly afford to look after her brother but yet they are keeping him there.
She is hopeful that her recent effort to write to President Jagdeo will bear some fruit and her brother will be given a chance to begin a new life.
Meanwhile, another condemned prisoner has resigned himself to the fact that he might spend the rest of his life in jail.
Ganga Deolall was charged on November, 3, 1993, with the murder of a woman whose body was tied to a crankshaft and submerged in the Essequibo River.
He was convicted in November 1995 but appealed the conviction two years later.
However, the conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal and his death sentence was confirmed in 1997.
Following this, his father had written to President Cheddi Jagan and again to his wife, Janet when she assumed the Presidency in 1997.
A further letter for clemency was written to President Bharat Jagdeo but there has been no reply.
In February 2000 a death warrant was read to Deolall, however, he was granted a stay of execution. He believes that the utterances of President Jagdeo are not inspiring for his chances of being freed.
In 2006, at a rally on the Essequibo Coast, President Jagdeo had indicated that he is not inclined to show mercy to those who kill women and children.