A man wanted by police on the Essequibo Coast was finally arrested last Wednesday, after he attempted to torch the home of an Onderneeming, Sandpit family.
The suspect, who was identified as Leon Pryce, is said to have been on the run for more than three years.
Police sources, yesterday confirmed that Pryce was wanted for at least three different criminal offences. Sources further confirmed that the man was wanted for simple larceny, unlawful wounding and injury to trees.
Reports reaching this publication indicated that on December 5, last year, Pryce destroyed two acres of cultivated crops belonging to an Onderneeming resident. After destroying the crops worth $1.5 million, Pryce then threatened to kill the farmer Devendra Persaud.
Last week Wednesday, however, Pryce played his last hand when he attempted to torch the home of an Onderneeming family.
According to reports, Pryce and an accomplice, on last Wednesday morning, attempted to set fire to the home of 34-year-old Daniel Stoll. Stoll, of Lot 570 Little Red Village, Onderneeming, supports his family of five, as a taxi driver plying the Onderneeming-Suddie route.
According to Stoll, the two men trespassed on his property Wednesday morning around 04:00 hrs. The men then reportedly poisoned two of Stoll’s water tanks. Stoll explained that after the men poisoned his water supply, Pryce and his accomplice drenched his car in gasoline.
“Well I smell the gasoline and I jump out me sleep. So when I peep outside I see the man Pryce with another man, and they de setting a gasoline trail from the car in meh yard to the road. So I came out and try to cover the gasoline track with sand.
Luckily the fire only burn across the road, it didn’t reach into the yard.” Ignorant of the poisoned water supply, Stoll’s two children, Livia and Simon Stoll, drank from the poisoned water tanks. The two kids, who are of ages eight and six, were subsequently hospitalized, after six-year-old Simon developed a fever.
Stoll reportedly led the police straight to Pryce’s hideout, where he was apprehended. His mother was reportedly taken into custody as well for harbouring a fugitive.
Stoll explained that the attack came as no surprise, as he was threatened earlier in the night by Pryce and his gang.
Stoll said, “The night it start about 07:00pm, where I saw one of the gang members, sitting in the road and blocked the car. I came out and ask him why he ain’t come off the road, but he refused to move, then three others came and they threatened to burn down my house.
They said ‘you know how long I want brush you up, ah gon chop you up. After the threats ‘they say you gon see what gon happen tonight.” Stoll then left for the Suddie Police Station where a report was subsequently made against the men.
According to reports, the notorious gang remains a threat to the Onderneeming community. Residents said that they are fearful for their lives because no one is standing up to the gang. The gang which contains about ten persons comprises youths from ages 14 to 26. Apart from simple larceny, the gang has reportedly been extremely violent towards residents in the neighbourhood.
Residents are fearful as even the integrity of Guyana Police Force seems questionable.
One resident who did not wish to be identified, explained, “If you make a report somehow they are already informed that the police coming.” Reports indicated that prior to his arrest last Wednesday, Pryce was already constructing his very own home, despite being wanted by the Police for more than three years.
Residents believe that this needs careful examination. They are baffled to see that a wanted man is left free to settle in a community with the law on his tail.
Yesterday, Pryce found himself before Magistrate Esther Sam, in the Charity Magistrate’s Court. Pryce who represented himself in court pleaded not guilty to the three charges which were read separately to him.
The first charge read that on Monday, December 5, 2016 in the Onderneeming Village, Pryce destroyed two acres of cultivated produce, belonging to Devendra Persaud. Pepper, bora, papaw, tomatoes and watermelon were destroyed. Pryce reportedly threatened Devendra whilst armed with a shotgun.
On September 4, 2016, Pryce also stole from Devendra Persaud two motor blowers and an outboard engine amounting to $425,000. Pryce was also charged for unlawfully wounding Danesh Singh of Onderneeming on September 5, 2017.
The final charge read against him stated that on Wednesday, September 13, Pryce attempted to set fire to the home of Stoll in Onderneeming. Pryce also maliciously and unlawfully poisoned two water tanks belonging to Stoll.
Stoll’s kids reportedly drank from the water tanks and were hospitalized. Pryce was refused bail, since all efforts to arrest him proved futile over the last three years.
Magistrate Esther Sam also took into consideration the extremity of the offences committed.
There are outstanding matters; however, still pending against him. Pryce is expected to make his next appearance in the Suddie Magistrate’s Court on October 12, 2017.
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