Emotions ran high among relatives of businessman Robert Benn yesterday, when he was committed to stand trial in the High Court for the capital offence of murder.
Minutes before noon, Benn, a licensed firearm holder, of Perry Street, Tucville, Georgetown, was told by Magistrate Dylon Bess that a prima facie case had been established against him by the prosecution, as the preliminary inquiry (PI) into the matter concluded.
The businessman is currently on remand for the murder of 24-year-old Colin Perreira, who was reportedly shot dead by him, after Perreira turned a car on a bridge in front of his yard on August 23, 2016.
According to reports, Perreira, called ‘Malcolm’ formerly of 213 Barr Street, Kitty, Georgetown was driving a heavily tinted motorcar, with his girlfriend Gail Ann Chacon seated in front. He attempted to turn around the vehicle, in front of the Benn’s residence. In the process, Benn who was reportedly in his yard whipped out his licensed handgun and discharged several rounds at the vehicle, hitting Benn and Chacon about their bodies.
Benn was charged based on advice given by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Chacon was also injured during the shooting which led to Benn being slapped with an attempted murder charge.
During his ruling, Magistrate Bess told the court that after reviewing the evidence led by Police Prosecutor Christopher Morris, it was clear that Benn inflicted injuries on Perreira with intent to maim or immobilize him.
According to the Magistrate there were no issues with the visual identity of the murder accused, since several witnesses testified to seeing him pulling out a gun and discharging rounds.
Magistrate Bess disclosed that Benn, in a statement to police, admitted to discharging rounds in the direction of the car. Based on the fact that Benn discharged multiple rounds at the car, the Magistrate noted that the accused intended to inflict injuries on Perreira, after hearing reports that bandits were planning to rob him.
“It is in my view that the prosecution has presented a very strong case in this matter. The prosecution has been able to establish all the essential ingredients for the offence of murder.”
The elements of the offence were outlined by the Magistrate.
Magistrate Bess stated that the prosecution was tasked with proving that Benn’s action resulted in the death of Perreira, and that Perreira died within one year and a day.
Further, the prosecution also had to prove that the injuries inflicted on Perreira resulted in his death which was given as shock and haemorrhage due to multiple gunshot wounds, and that Benn was not acting in self defence, nor did Perreira die as a result of an accident.
Before passing his ruling, Magistrate Bess noted that none of the prosecution’s 16 witnesses were discredited under cross examination.
When asked if he had anything to say in answer to the charge, the accused said, “I reserve my defence for the High Court,” after seeking guidance from his lawyer Ronald Burch-Smith. He also refused to call witnesses.
Burch-Smith earlier on in the matter had contended that his client did not premeditate to kill Perreira. He even raised questions as to why Benn was not charged with manslaughter.
The lawyer had told the court that his client was living in fear since several threats had been made on his life. According to the attorney, persons had threatened to attack, kill and rob his client. In addition, the court was told by the attorney that Benn felt afraid when he saw the car turning on his bridge because he believed that the occupants of the vehicle were bandits.
Benn will go before a judge and jury at the next practicable sitting of the Demerara Assizes. (Feona Morrison)
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