Quartet accused of trafficking girls granted substantial bail
Four individuals accused of trafficking in persons were yesterday granted bail in substantial amounts when they appeared before Magistrate Hazel Octive-Hamilton at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court.
Of the quartet, three were charged with conspiring to traffic four females, while the fourth accused was charged with trafficking.
Thirty-four year-old Candace Abigail Anderson, of Middle Street, Pouderoyen, West Bank Demerara, was slapped with two charges. It is alleged that on April 15 at New Amsterdam, Berbice, she engaged in trafficking four minor females into the interior, i.e, she recruited the girls by fraudulent means for the purpose of exploiting them.
The police are also alleging that between April 15 and 20 at Itaballi, Bartica, Anderson reportedly engaged in trafficking the four girls by transporting and harbouring them. She was not required to enter a plea to the indictable charges.
Anderson was represented by Defence Attorney Onika Archer, who stood in association with lawyers Peter Hugh and Latchmie Rahamat.
Archer told the court that her client is the owner of a General Store located in the backdam. She said that the accused has no previous or pending offences and that the only crime the woman may have committed was that she employed the underaged females.
Police prosecutor Tracymay Gittens did not oppose bail for the accused, but asked the court to grant same in a large sum. Anderson was subsequently placed on a total of $500,000 bail – $250,000 on each of the charges.
The other three accused who were slapped with conspiracy charges were also not required to plead to the indictable charges.
Omefa Paul, 38, of Hadfield Street Georgetown, 17-year-old Stephan Andrew Frazer and Wesley Hart, 32, of Queenstown Village, Essequibo, were implicated in aiding in the illegal act reportedly committed against the teens.
The allegation is that between April 15 and April 20 at Itaballi, Bartica, the three persons, who were charged separately, conspired with Anderson to traffic the girls by means of fraud for the purpose of exploitation.
Paul was represented by Defence Attorney Shellon Boyce while Archer in association with Rahamat and Hugh, were documented as representatives for the other two alleged conspirators.
Paul was said to be the bartender and cook at Anderson’s establishment. Boyce told the court that the woman had no convictions, previous or pending matters. She requested bail in a reasonable sum. The magistrate granted bail to the tune of $250,000.
Stephan Frazer was said to be the son of Candace Anderson, and he resides at the same location with his mother. His lawyer argued that he is a young person and he has no previous or pending matters, thus he should be granted bail in a reasonable sum. Bail was set at $200,000.
Hart was identified by Archer as being a mechanic who repaired machinery in the interior. He has three children. He was ordered to pay $200,000 for his pre-trial liberty.
The four accused will return to court on May 17 and will appear before Chief Magistrate Priya Beharry.
This matter stems from an operation which was orchestrated by members of the Guyana Women Miners’ Organization and ranks of the Bartica Police Station in late April.
According to reports, the above mentioned entities learnt of a sixteen-year-old girl who was reportedly lured into the interior by way of indicated financial gain. She reportedly escaped from the area where she was being held to perform sexual duties for male miners for monetary gain. With the help of public spirited persons the girl managed to exit the interior and reported the matter.
A team of police ranks swooped down on the location and arrested four individuals. Three other girls were also reportedly rescued from the said location during the raid. They alleged that they were recruited to do jobs other than that which they were brought to do.