After almost two years of hearing evidence and arguments, Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine- Beharry yesterday told a packed courtroom of anxious spectators, that she believes that a Prima Facie case has been made out against murder accused, Bibi Gopaul and Jarvis Small.
The two persons are accused of murdering 16-year-old Queen’s College student, Neesa Lalita Gopaul.
Bibi Gopaul, along with her former lover Small, is charged with murdering her daughter between September 24 and October 2, 2010.
When the Preliminary Inquiry into the murder concluded yesterday, the Chief Magistrate called on both accused to lead a defence. The Magistrate is expected to announce today whether she will be sending the matter for a High Court trial.
The teen’s body was discovered dumped, in a suitcase in a creek along the Soesdyke/Linden Highway, a few days after she went missing.
Both Gopaul and Small appeared nervous and tense.
Both accused insisted that they were “innocent of the charge”.
Small added: “I did not kill Neesa Gopaul or have anything to do with her murder.”
Attorney-at-law, Vic Puran, who is representing Gopaul, appeared “pro bono” for Small, whose lawyer, Senior Counsel (SC) Bernard De Santos, was absent for yesterday’s hearing.
Puran argued that despite the court finding a Prima Facie case being made out against Small, his lawyer should be afforded an opportunity to respond to the Prosecution’s submission that sufficient evidence led by the prosecution warranted a committal.
He said that if he was Small’s lawyer, he would have objected to the submission that sufficient evidence was led against the accused. He requested time to make contact with De Santos.
Although the Chief Magistrate allowed for contact to be made with De Santos, she expressed her difficulty with Puran’s request. She made it clear that all the relevant parties were aware that a ruling had been scheduled for yesterday.
Puran later informed the court that De Santos was in Bartica and had requested that the matter be adjourned for today. At that time, he will be making an appearance to challenge the Prosecution’s claim of adequate evidence against Small.
On October 2, the body of a female was found tucked inside a partially submerged suitcase near the Emerald Tower Resort at Madewini, off the Soesdyke/Linden Highway. A family on an outing had made the gruesome discovery when they became aware of a foul odour.
Investigators had discovered that the killer(s) had wrapped a length of rope around the teen’s lifeless body and had attached a dumb-bell to the other end of the rope in an effort to weigh down the body in the creek.
Detectives had also retrieved from the suitcase, a passport (Number 0730108) bearing the name Neesa Lalita Gopaul along with a bank card.
The relatives of Neesa Gopaul’s father who is deceased, were yesterday present in court. Speaking to Kaieteur News, the men who identified themselves as the uncle and cousin of the dead teen said they flew in from the United States and Canada, respectively, just to witness the committal of the two accused.
The matter had shocked Guyana with its very brutality and searching questions had been asked of the police, social workers and management of Queen’s College.
The matter will continue at 10:00 this morning.
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