A teary-eyed Regan Rodrigues slowly walked out the courtroom uttering “I didn’t do it. I didn’t kill your son,” to the mother of Courtney Crum-Ewing, the slain political activist. The preliminary inquiry into a murder charge was discharged against him, by Magistrate Judy Latchman.
Rodrigues, 32, also known as ‘Grey Boy’ of Riverview, Ruimveldt, Georgetown, was yesterday discharged on the murder of Crum-Ewing which occurred on March 10, 2015 at Diamond, East Bank Demerara.
According to reports, the bullet-riddled body of Crum-Ewing was found at Third Avenue, Diamond New Scheme EBD. The 40 year-old was shot twice to the temple, once to the back of the head and twice to the stomach. The police in a statement had stated that the political activist was accosted by four men in a car, one of whom discharged several rounds, hitting him about the body. It was reported that the killer (s) used a .32 pistol to execute Crum-Ewing.
Crum-Ewing was well known for his one-man protest outside the office of former Attorney General (AG) Anil Nandlall. Minutes before he was gunned down, he was reportedly heard via bullhorn urging residents of the nieghbourhood to vote against then ruling party PPP/C.
The decision was handed down in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts, after Attorney Nigel Hughes made his closing submissions, on behalf of the prosecution.
Despite Rodrigues being told that he was free to go, he remains imprisoned. Nevertheless, before leaving the courtroom, he expressed gratitude towards the Magistrate for her decision.
Earlier this year, the father of three, was jailed for three years by Magistrate Fabayo Azore for escaping from police custody. On July 13, 2015 at Riverview, Ruimveldt, the police were at Rodrigues’s home conducting a search. It was alleged that a gun was found under a chair in his home.
Rodrigues was arrested by the lawmen and while being escorted to the police station, he pushed aside the arresting officer and made good his escape. However, he was arrested the following day in the vicinity of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters, Eve Leary, Georgetown.
Rodrigues was also charged for possession of an illegal firearm and ammunition. These charges were dismissed against him by Magistrate Azore, after she found that the elements of the offences were not proven beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecution.
Crum-Ewing’s mother and step-father were present at the hearing.
After brief submissions from Hughes, the Magistrate retired to her chambers to review the evidence. She returned to the courtroom in about 30 minutes with her ruling.
In essence, she said that Rodrigues had no case to answer to since the prosecution failed to make out a Prima Facie case against him.
During her ruling, Magistrate Latchman told the court that based on evidence led during the Preliminary Inquiry (PI), she believed that the .32 revolver used to kill Crum-Ewing was the same gun seized by police from the home of Rodrigues during a raid. However, she pointed out that there was no evidence to support the contention that that firearm was used by Rodrigues to kill the political activist.
According to the Magistrate, she believed that Crum-Ewing died as a result of gunshot wounds. This, she said, was supported by a testimony from Pathologist, Dr Nehaul Singh, whom she said, gave the cause of death as shock and haemorrhage due to multiple gunshot wounds.
In addition, Magistrate Latchman stated that 14 statements allegedly made by Rodrigues were a focal point in the prosecution’s case. But she noted that these statements never formed part of evidence in the PI. The reason for this, she informed, was because of the prosecutor’s failure to request the court to rule on the admissibility of the statements.
While stating that several inferences can be drawn from those statements, the Magistrate pointed out that they did not implicate Rodrigues in the murder of Crum-Ewing.
But Prosecutor Hughes, during his submissions, argued that the statements made by Rodrigues during his time in custody at the CID Headquarters, Eve Leary, Georgetown proved that he had the gun for four years and that he had knowledge of activities the gun was used for.
Hughes said that Rodrigues was arrested and taken to CID Headquarters after police ranks swooped down on his Riverview, Ruimveldt home and found an illegal firearm.
According to Hughes, Rodrigues told Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Mitchell Caesar , “Is my gun. I buy it four years now to protect my family.”
He also said that Rodrigues also told three policemen, “Officer gave me a chance nah. I can’t tek turn in with this gun…this gun do nuff things.”
Hughes stated that Rodrigues never denied making the statements even though he had the opportunity to do so during the PI. The prosecutor told the court that it is now left to the jury to decide what inferences can be drawn from those statements because a Magistrate has no jurisdiction to do that during a PI.
Rodrigues appeared visibly upset at Hughes’s contentions. He shifted restlessly while seated in the prisoner’s dock and shouted offensive remarks at the prosecutor. He eventually, calmed down and remained silent until the end of the proceedings.
Further, Hughes added that after detectives processed the murder scene, spent shells were sent to Ballistic Expert, Inspector Eon Jackson for analysis. Hughes stated that there was a direct match with the spent shells recovered from the murder scene and those retrieved from the body of Crum-Ewing by the pathologist.
“At the time Courtney Crum-Ewing was shot and killed the accused (Rodrigues) was in possession of the firearm and was involved in the commissioning of the offence”, Hughes asserted.
The prosecutor added that the circumstantial evidence in its entirety leads inevitably to the conclusion that Rodrigues was directly involved in the murder of Crum-Ewing.
At an earlier court hearing, Rodrigues’s Attorney Adrian Thompson had made closing arguments. The lawyer had contended that there was no evidence to prove that his client was in possession of a gun when Crum-Ewing was murdered. He had urged the court to exclude evidence from the PI that linked his client to being in possession of a firearm.
Thompson had argued that illegal firearm and ammunition charges were dismissed against his client by another Magistrate, after she ruled that the prosecution failed to prove the elements of the offence.
Addressing this yesterday, Hughes said that this court has no knowledge whether evidence was led in relation to that matter, which was presided over, by another Magistrate.
As such, he added that evidence led in another court cannot have bearing on proceedings in this court.
Magistrate Latchman was in agreement with this. (Feona Morrison)
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