Four years after Guyanese murder in Barbados … Relatives lambaste island’s police for indifference towards investigation
“These people criticise Guyanese so much but they are worse.” The words of Edith Latchman as she laments the indifference of the Barbados police to the brutal murder of her son, Christopher, four years ago.
On Saturday July 19, 2008 Christopher Anthony Griffith was shot dead when gunmen stormed the Hippo Restaurant and Bar on Bay Street, St Michael, Barbados, a popular liming spot for Guyanese on the island. The place is owned by Guyanese Seelochanie Samuels.
Investigators had initially concluded that robbery was the motive for attack.
Samuels herself was shot but survived after spending several days in hospital. However relatives of the dead Guyanese are not convinced that robbery was the motive.
In fact four years later, Griffith’s mother is still clinging to the belief that the bar owner’s children could provide vital clues as to the motive of what really transpired that night.
Her belief is based on the fact that her 26-year-old son was involved in a relationship with the bar owner who was much older than him, a situation that her grown children were not in agreement with.
“On to now they ain’t hold nobody. I believe that the woman should be held; she children got to be involved,” said Edith Latchman in a telephone interview with this newspaper from her Essequibo Coast home.
She told Kaieteur News that reports from relatives in Barbados indicate that the woman has been making repeated excuses whenever the police on the island try to obtain a statement from her to facilitate their investigation.
Relatives of the dead man who reside on the island are also reluctant to speak out for fear of victimization by the Barbadian authorities.
Shortly after Griffith’s death, his sister Abiola Alleyne had expressed disappointment with the way the police in Barbados had treated the matter.
Alleyne, who resides in Barbados, believes that because her brother was a Guyanese, the authorities there appear to be indifferent to the murder.
“As far as I know the Guyana Consul here never looked into the matter. He has never contacted me. I have to be calling the police to find out what is happening,” Alleyne had told this newspaper via telephone in a previous interview.
Griffith, 26, is originally from Pomona Village, Essequibo.
According to Abiola Alleyne a description of the killer was given to the Barbadian investigators and yet there appears to be no intensified effort to apprehend him.
“Barbados is a small island and with the description, they (investigators) should have been able to find him. I don’t want my brother’s murder to go unsolved,” Alleyne said.
Memories of that day in July 2008 are still painful for Edith Latchman.
“As a mother, I get a shock every time I remember what happened to my son. Four years is like four days
for me,” lamented Edith Latchman yesterday.
She said that the last time she heard anything about the investigation was when Barbadian policeman contacted her via telephone last year.
She said that the policeman promised to contact her again but he never did.
“Barbados is a tourist island and they (Barbadian police) should ensure that every foreigner should get justice regardless if they are from Guyana or England,” Latchman said.
The shooting was hardly reported in the media on the island and this newspaper was unsuccessful in attempts to gather information from the sister CARICOM territory.
“At first the Bajans blame Guyanese when Chris get killed. When they had the fire at the mall when people were killed they blamed it on Guyanese until they found out it was the Bajans themselves who did it,” Latchman pointed out.
During a visit to this country three years ago to attend the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police Conference, Barbadian Top Cop Darwin Dottin was questioned about the investigation into the murder and had promised to provide information upon his return home.
However, when this newspaper contacted his office via telephone as arranged he was always unavailable.