Feb 06, 2015 News
Twenty- five photographs which were taken at the scene where the remains of murdered Queen’s College student, Neesa Gopaul, were discovered, have been tendered as part of the evidence of the High Court trial of Bibi Shareema Gopaul and Jarvis ‘Barry’ Small.
Gopaul and Small are on trial before Justice Navindra Singh and a mixed twelve-member jury for the murder.
Yesterday, Police Constable Leon George testified that he had taken photographic exposures at the location where Gopaul’s remains were found. George was called to the stand by State Lawyers, Diana Kaulesar, Stacy Gooding and Mercedes Thompson.
The witness told the court that on October 2, 2010 he was on duty at the Police Crime Lab when he received a request from ranks attached to the Timehri Police Station with regards to an alleged murder.
George said that based on information received, he visited the scene at Emerald Tower Resort, Linden/Soesdyke Highway, and took several photographs of the entrance and other parts of the resort. He detailed that he also took photographs of the remains of a female contained in a bag which had a passport bearing the name Neesa Gopaul.
The witness recounted that he also took photographs of black, red, and white dumbbells which were found at the scene. The Officer said that he took the material back to the lab, where it was developed, printed, marked and sealed in a white envelope.
The witness explained that he affixed the date, his signature, and a police photographic stamp on items and on the packet. He said that the items were later presented as part of the evidence in the Magistrates’ Court.
Prosecutor Kaulesar then requested for the witness to be shown the envelope containing the photographs. However, her request met with objections from Defence Attorney, Glenn Hanoman. Hanoman objected to the witness being shown the photographs on the grounds that no foundation was laid by the prosecution, which indicates that witness could have identified items based on specific markings.
Consequently, Kaulesar submitted that she disagreed with the objection made by the defence since the witness had indicated that the envelope bore his signature, date, and a police stamp by which it could be identified.
Justice Singh subsequently overruled the objection and permitted the envelope containing the photographs to be marked and tendered as part of the evidence in the trial. The envelope was labeled exhibit “C”.
At this point, Bibi Gopaul became visibly distressed. The woman cried silently as she sat beside the co-accused in the prisoners’ dock. Small also sat quietly, constantly covering his mouth with a handkerchief for most of the proceeding.
As the witness examined the photographs and verified that they all had stamps and markings by which he could have identified them, Hanoman noted that the usual procedure is that the defence is given the courtesy of seeing the photographs before it is shown to the witness.
However, Justice Singh noted that no such objection was made by the defence before the photographs were shown to the witness.
Thereafter the Defence Attorneys and the State Prosecution were allowed to view the photographs.
Earlier in the day, Superintendant of Police Terrance Paul testified that he was stationed the Criminal Investigation Department, (CID) of the Leonora Police Station on September 15, 2010 when the number two accused, Bibi Gopaul, and her sister Bibi Rehman, requested an audience with him. He said that Rehman told him that her niece was sexually assaulted by her stepfather (Small).
He told the court that the woman had explained that the matter was reported via a Justice of the Peace, (JP) after her niece had given a statement to the police denying the sexual assault.
The Policeman said that her niece was prepared to give another statement as to what the accused did to her.
Paul said that he subsequently interviewed the teenager in the presence of her mother and aunt, but noted that the efforts to arrest Small were unsuccessful. The witness said that later Bibi Gopaul visited the station and told him that her sister told Neesa Gopaul to fabricate the story.
“She said that Bibi Rehman wanted Small out of the home because he is a negro and her family did not like him.”
The witness said that Gopaul promised to return to the station with her daughter to tell him what really happened. He said that he waited all day, the following day, but she never turned up.
Paul said that he later saw Small, Bibi Gopaul and her two daughters as they were travelling along the West Coast public road in a motorcar; he did not stop them because he thought that they were fine and back together again.
Paul stated that it was sometime after that Gopaul came to the station to file a missing person’s report—her daughter had gone missing.
Under cross examination by the defence, the witness later told the court he had assisted with the investigations, but had made no records of such. He said that he only made personal notes about the matter, but could find it. He also agreed that although the teenager had mentioned having a boyfriend in the statements which she gave to the police, no one else, besides Gopaul and Small, was under investigation for the crime.
The witness also admitted that there was no sure way of identifying the remains as Neesa Gopaul. He agreed that the information contained in the suitcase bearing the remains suggested that the body belonged to the missing Queen’s College student. He expressed that investigators could have been 90 per cent sure based on the name contained in the passport.
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