It was just around three o’clock on the afternoon of Sunday, May 22, 2016, that Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum and detectives from the Major Crimes Unit stepped out of a yard at Lot 51, Seaforth Street. Shortly after, two shackled men, with heads bowed, emerged from the same property.
Blanhum then made a chilling announcement: His team had found the remains of 28-year-old Babita Sarjou, who had seemingly vanished off the face of the earth six years ago. The detectives had also detained two suspects in her murder.
They were Sarjou’s 38-year-old estranged reputed husband, Sharadananda Narine, called “Anand”, and Darel Pronton.
The two men were subsequently charged with murder, and DNA tests confirmed that the victim was indeed Babira Sarjou.
The solving of the Babita Sarjou case was the pinnacle of an amazing run of crime solving by the Guyana Police Force in 2016, in particular its Major Crimes Unit, the stand-out organization for 2016.
Working without a forensic laboratory and local access to DNA testing, without dogs trained to locate bodies, and with a shortage of manpower, the Force’s detectives solved some 70 percent of murder cases last year.
And for the first time in recent memory, the police have closed cases that, in some instances, had remained unsolved for years. At least eight of these cases were solved this year.
On December 21, 2014, a huge fire consumed a three-storey wooden structure at Robb and King Streets. Theresa Rozario, 15, and her 12-year-old sister, Feresa Rozario, were in the top flat. They were burnt alive. Their father, 63-year-old Hilrod Thomas, managed to jump through a window, but succumbed from burns a few days later.
Last February, some two years later, detectives detained and jointly charged Ganga Kishna, 72, a businessman of Lot 11 North Road, Bourda, and his employee, Avishkar Kissoon, 24, for the murders of Thomas and his two daughters, in the course or furtherance of arson at a dwelling house.
On September 21, 2012, 41-year-old businesswoman Jennifer Persaud and her sons, Afridi Bacchus, aged six and 18-month-old Jadon Persaud, were butchered in their Anna Catherina, East Coast Demerara home.
For close to four years, the identity of the killer of the Anna Catherina, West Coast Demerara family remained unknown.
That changed eight months ago, when detectives detained 31-year-old Abishai Caesar, a former neighbour.
Caesar, a barber, of Tuschen, East Bank Essequibo, was charged with three counts of murder.
Around 01.00 hrs on April 17, 2012, 31-year-old truck driver Jadesh Dass was found dead on the Mahaica New Road, near Unity. He had been shot twice at close range. Police almost immediately ruled out robbery, but it would take another four years for detectives to receive a solid tip that led to the alleged killers.
Last July, businessman Amarnauth Bhopaul and alleged hit-man, Nanda Kumar Ganesh, were remanded for Dass’ murder.
One of the challenging cases, with many twists and turns, was the murder of 46-year-old businesswoman, Sirmattie Ramnaress, also known as ‘Pavita.’
The businesswoman was found dead in the garage of her 21st Avenue, Diamond Housing Scheme residence on Saturday, August 31, 2013. A bond at the back of her property was also torched.
A postmortem revealed that the 46-year-old businesswoman was struck repeatedly to the head and body, and attempts had been made to strangle her. It took the police close to two years to make a breakthrough.
In November, 2015, detectives arrested and charged the slain woman’s neighbour, 32-year-old Colin Grant, with her murder.
The case took another turn last February, when police arrested Ramnaress’ estranged reputed husband, ex-Sergeant Colin Bailey. He was charged with murder a few days later.
On February, 2008, popular businessman Habiboodeen, 76, was brutally beaten in his Ruby, East Bank Essequibo home. He succumbed
Police subsequently charged the businessman’s daughter, Bibi Nazeela Habiboodeen, and an employer for Habiboodeen’s murder. The matter was subsequently discharged due to insufficient evidence.
That changed last May, when detectives re-arrested Bibi Nazeela Habiboodeen and Linden Lewis, 29, of Vergenoegen East Bank Essequibo, in connection with the case.
Police alleged that Lewis was hired to kill the elderly businessman. They were both charged for Mr. Habiboodeen’s murder. Lewis’ uncle, Michael London, was later charged for the same crime.
It took four years, and a persistent mother, before police finally brought charges in a murder that occurred at a hotel.
That murder happened between Sunday November 18, 2012 and Monday November 19, 2012.
The victim, 20-year-old mechanic, Sadeek Juman, was found dead in the pool of the Double Day Hotel, located at Tuschen, East Bank Essequibo.
He had reportedly visited the premises in the company of friends. It was alleged that an altercation occurred between him and a group of men.
A post mortem showed that his death was due to drowning, compounded by blunt trauma to the head.
The 29-year-old hotel manager, a hotel driver, also 29, and 25-year-old Johnson were taken into custody last week.
Last November, detectives from the Major Crimes Unit detained the manager of the Double Day Hotel, Bhojnauth Bhola and Leyland Johnson, an employee. They were subsequently charged jointly for the 2012 murder.
Fareeda Juman, the slain mechanic’s mother, had relentlessly pressed the police to find her son’s killers.
The police also managed to solve a murder that had happened 17 years ago.
The victim was David Ramcharran, of Seven Miles, Potaro. He was stabbed to death in 1999, allegedly during a quarrel over two cartons of cigarettes.
Last July, police arrested 38-year-old gold miner, Philbert Edwards after he wounded his brother. It was when the accused was in court that the Magistrate learned that he was also a suspect in Ramcharran’s murder.
Police also solved several gruesome murders, many of which were allegedly committed by teens.
Eighteen-year-old British national Dominic Bernard came to Guyana on October 14, 2015, and promptly disappeared.
His decomposed body was found on January 9, 2016 at Nurney, Corentyne.
A postmortem showed that he had been clubbed at the back of the head until his skull fractured.
Police eventually arrested and charged the slain teen’s god-brother, Aaron Hing, Staymon George, 24, Krystal Thomas, 20, Sinfine Henry, 39 and 18-year-old Jahmeil Sinclair for the heinous crime.
It was also in early January that detectives brought a halt to a killing spree that was allegedly committed by a gang of drug-addicted youths.
The first victims were Anita Baichan, 49, and her son, Moshim Khan, who were awakened by masked intruders in their Plantation Hope, West Coast Berbice house.
They were beaten, bound with duct-tape and their home set alight while they were still inside. The son managed to escape, while his mother was burnt alive.
A few days later, bandits hacked 81-year-old grocer Doodnauth Rajkumar and his 49-year-old wife, Dianne Chammanlall, to death at their Bush Lot, West Coast Berbice.
Mr. Rajkumar, with throat slashed from ear to ear, and with one arm partially severed, was found dead in the hallway.
Police reportedly found his wife, Dianne Chammanlall, badly injured and lying in the verandah of the two-storey home. She succumbed at the Fort Wellington Hospital.
Police allegedly linked a gang of young men to the three murders. Rooplall Abrahim, 24, and 18-year-old Gocoul Madanpaul and Nazamadeen Raffick, 19, were eventually charged.
On the night of April 17, 2016, bandits broke into the Good Hope, East Bank Essequibo home of business couple Mohamed Munir, 75, and his wife Bibi Jamila Munir, 69.
After the couple awoke and refused to give the intruders access to their bedroom, the robbers set the house alight. Mohamed and Bibi Munir were burnt alive in the heavily grilled premises.
It took police almost seven months to make a breakthrough and, once again, ranks from the Major Crimes Unit were at the forefront of the investigation.
In late December, detectives arrested and charged Jason Howard,21, called ‘Smelly’; Joel Blair; Sanjay George, called ‘Coolie Boy’ and Shahabudeen Mohamed, called ‘Milo’ for the murder of the elderly couple.
A deportee known as ‘Pepsi’ is still to be located.
It was also last May that police cracked a case that became known as the ‘maid of honour murder.’
On April 16, two days before she was to have been the maid of honour at her sister’s wedding, 25-year-old Simone Hackett left her ‘C’ Field, Sophia home and never returned.
Three days later, her body, with throat slit, was found in a trench at Fourth Field, Cummings Lodge.
Police subsequently arrested and charged Hackett’s reputed husband, Cleavaughn Hamilton, also known as ‘Quarters’ for Hackett’s murder.
Also charged with Hackett’s murder was Ranachal Singh, 31, a taxi driver of Lot 7 Good Hope, Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara.
Police also cracked the sensational murder of 75-year-old retired professor, Pairadeau Mars, who was slain by a group of teens at his Lot 395 Bissessar Street, Prashad Nagar home.
Another case solved was the “Berbice triple murder” in which the bullet-riddled bodies of a boy and two adults were found in the Cookrite Backdam at Mibicuri, Black Bush Polder, Corentyne, and the sensational murder of Berbice carpenter Faiyaz Narinedatt, allegedly on the orders of U.S-based Marcus Brian Bisram.
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