Mar 11, 2014 News
Senior officials of the Guyana Police Force fear that a major crisis could develop if certain administrative changes within the Criminal Investigations Department are pursued.
Reliable sources within the hierarchy of the force have revealed that moves to replace the head of the police forensic laboratory, Superintendent Stephen Greaves, could backfire, since it could compromise a number of pending High Court matters.
Superintendent Greaves was issued with a letter of transfer some time in May last year. He was instructed to hand over all exhibits that were in his possession to his former deputy, Superintendent Philip Azore.
However, because of the sensitive nature of the exhibits, Greaves has maintained possession of them, even though his superiors in the Criminal Investigations Department have seized his office, which he had been occupying for more than 20 years.
No official reason was proffered for Greaves’s transfer but this newspaper was reliably informed that the writing was on the wall for Greaves ever since he had to take the flak for the fallout of the Shema Mangar sample fiasco.
It was also reported that his transfer has to do with a falling out he had with the Force’s CID top brass over a highly contentious issue that came up during the Linden Commission of Inquiry.
Kaieteur News understands that Superintendent Greaves had been requested to prepare a “specific” report on ballistics tests carried out on weapons used during the Linden riots that led to the deaths of three persons.
He refused to carry out the request, claiming that it was against his professional ethics.
Ironically, Greaves is being asked to hand over the exhibits in his possession to an officer against whom he had recommended that disciplinary action be taken.
Superintendent Greaves joined the Guyana Police Force as a specialist officer from the Government Analyst Department more than 25 years ago. For the past two decades he has been presenting most, if not all, of the evidence for the state in terms of forensic evidence, especially when it comes to blood samples in murder cases.
He is still responsible for presenting evidence based on samples and exhibits for pending matters.
According to a senior police official who is in disagreement with the move to replace greaves, if the exhibits in the Superintendent’s possession were to be handed over to someone else now, there could be serious consequences for a number of high profile murder cases.
“Defence attorneys will have a field day if this were to happen, especially when those who will now be in possession of them have very little or no experience giving evidence of such nature in the High Court,” the official stated.
He suggested that since Greaves has a few more years in the Force, he should be allowed to keep possession of the exhibits until the matters have been dealt with in the courts or when a systematic and detailed handing over could be organized.
The official pointed to a recent case in the High Court to illustrate why he is convinced that the potential consequences of Greaves’s transfer could be disastrous.
He recalled that in the case, a former operative from the Police Crime Scene Department at the Criminal Investigation Department had collected evidence, which consisted of a blood stained piece of wood and three sets of swabs and a piece of cloth, a few months before he retired from the force.
The evidence was lodged. But when the case was called in the court a few years later, only one piece of evidence, the blood stained piece of wood, could be presented; the rest had disappeared.
“The point is, these things disappeared in storage, and the point I am making is that the rank handed it to somebody who might have been subsequently transferred and it went to a next person. Why would you want to be giving exhibits over to this person and that person unnecessarily?” the official asked.
“If Greaves were to hand over the exhibits in his possession, anything could happen. I’m not saying that the exhibits belong to Greaves alone; they belong to the Guyana Police Force, but due consideration should be given to how they are transferred,” the officer added.
The conventional position is that the analyst must be in continuous possession of exhibits presented to him from the time it is submitted to him to the time it is returned to the investigating rank, not to a third party, so as to protect their integrity.
“These exhibits have to be distributed you know, one way or the other, but the question is whether they will permit Greaves to distribute them himself in a proper manner which is the best thing or you have them floating around and complicate the cases when they meet to the high court. There are lots of murder cases involved,” the officer said.
A legal source expressed alarm that the police are taking such an approach, given all the experiences they have had with missing exhibits and break of chain of custody.
“If that is to happen it will be a windfall for the defence,” the legal source stated.
About three years ago, Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee had cause to intervene and influenced the reinstatement of Superintendent Greaves when there was a previous attempt to remove him from the police laboratory.
The recent move is coming at a time when more emphasis is being placed on forensic science to solve crimes and many are seeing the move to transfer the most experienced officer in this field in the Guyana Police Force as counter-productive.
The government will soon be commissioning a state-of-the-art forensic laboratory at the University of Guyana’s Turkeyen Campus.
Oct 28, 2021Kaieteur News – Gary Ragnauth hit an attractive 64 to spur Caribbean Sports Club to comfortable 30-run win over Sunrisers last Sunday at Cullen Beach where action continued in the inaugural...
Kaieteur News -I thought that David Granger was strategising by not announcing his candidacy then doing it at the last moment.... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – It is nothing short of shocking to learn that, despite the fact that the world... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]