Nov 19, 2016 News
Clebert Reece, one of the men who pleaded guilty to killing 12 persons at Bartica has been sentenced to
420 years – 35 years on each count of manslaughter. Reece was originally charged with 12 counts of murder.
He pleaded guilty to the lesser offence when he appeared before Justice Roxanne George, earlier this month. He had offered to plead guilty to manslaughter.
Reece, 39, of Berbice reappeared before the Judge yesterday for sentencing after a probation report was presented to the court on his behalf.
The report outlined that while Reece grew up in a quiet rural community, his socio-economic circumstances might have been the main contributory factor that led to a life of crime. He was said to have been influenced early on by his cousin who was involved in such activities.
After the probation report to the court, Judge George originally sentenced Reece to 65 years but time was deducted from the sentence for a number of mitigating factors.
Justice George deducted 10 years for the guilty plea; 12 years for the mitigating factors and eight years for the time Reece spent in prison pending the High Court trial.
The convict was therefore sentenced to 35 years on each charge. However, she ordered that the sentence run concurrently hence Reece will only serve 35 years in the prison.
According to the court’s ruling he would not be eligible for parole until he has served 30 years behind bars. A teary eyed Reece was escorted back to prison where the word is that his life is under threat. The convict was implicated in the February 17, 2008 killings at Bartica. He was among five men charged for the offence.
According to reports at approximately 21:40 hours some 20 gunmen attacked Bartica, slaughtering one dozen people, including three policemen, during an hour-long strafing.
It was reported that the gunmen attacked the police station first, killing the policemen and freeing prisoners.
They then took the vehicle assigned to the police station and went on a rampage, terrorising the community and murdering nine others. According to reports, the gunmen arrived in the area by boat and departed in similar fashion taking with them firearms they had grabbed from the police station and from a mining company.
Earlier this month, Reece and his co-accused Michael Caesar, pleaded guilty to 12 counts of manslaughter before the same judge.
Given their guilty pleas, the state is now left to prosecute Mark Royden Williams called Durant and Smallie; Dennis Williams, called Anaconda; and Roger Anthony Simon, called Goat Man.
In her opening address, State Prosecutor Diana Kaulesar told the court that on the day of the massacre, Reece was forcefully recruited by one “Sad Man”.
She said that it was because “Sad Man” phoned Reece and threatened to kill his family that he went into a car at East La Penitence with four men. The driver of the vehicle, she said, had a handgun, while the other men had AK-47 weapons.
Kaulesar further told the court that the car took Reece to the Parika Bus Park, just off the Stabroek Market, where he met two men, with whom he travelled to Parika by bus. The series of events is said to have led up to Bartica.
After their arrival, the men were said to have attacked the Bartica Police Station, where they killed Lance Corporal Zaheer Zakir, Constable Shane Fredericks and Constable Ron Osborne. After murdering the three police officers, the gang stole cash, arms, ammunition and a vehicle from the police station.
Using the stolen police vehicle, they drove through the streets of Bartica shooting at civilians, fatally wounding Irwin Gilkes. They then proceeded to CBR Mining, where they killed Irving Ferreira, stole arms and ammunition, and removed two safes containing cash and gold. Next, they shot and killed Dexter Adrian before returning to the wharf.
At the wharf, they executed Abdool Yassin Jr, Deonarine Singh, Errol Thomas, Ronald Gomes, Baldeo Singh and Ashraf Khan. After their one-hour rampage, the gunmen departed Bartica by boat.
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