– seeks to replace ‘obsolete’ equipment it acquired from Police Force
It’s been several months since the Guyana Forensic Science Laboratory (GFSL) has conducted gunpowder residue tests. That’s because the near-obsolete equipment it acquired from the Guyana Police Force is inoperable.
Officials at the GFSL are seeking Inter-American Development Bank funding to acquire new equipment. Attempts are also ongoing to acquire software for the old machine.
The equipment the lab needs is used to conduct the final tests to confirm the presence of gunpowder residue.
In an interview some months ago, GFSL’s Director Delon France had explained that two tests (presumptive and confirmatory) are required to confirm the presence of gunpowder residue, since there are substances (such as brake pad residue) that are similar to gunpowder.
“The preliminary tests (also called the presumptive or screening tests) will pick up (evidence of) chemicals which appear to be gunshot residue, or which mimic gunshot residue. Then you do the confirmatory tests, which would confirm what substance it actually is.”
The malfunctioning equipment has resulted in delays in a number of murder investigations in which gunpowder residue plays a vital part.
These include the January 8, 2018 shooting death of Korner Kick Manager, Tevin Parris, and the January 14, 2018 deaths of Pomeroon farmers, Ambrose Baharally and Martin Godette.
The 27-year-old Parris was found dead in his bed, in the upper flat of his Lot 66 Garnett Street, Newtown home. He had been shot to the head.
An unlicenced 9mm pistol, with 14 live rounds was found in his right hand.
But a post mortem indicated that the injury was not self-inflicted.
Investigators detained an individual who was close to some members of the slain man’s family. They also swabbed a suspect and the victim for traces of gunpowder residue.
Coconut farmers Ambrose Baharally, 28, of Grant Stelling, Hope Lower Pomeroon, and Martin Godette, 23, of Friendship Canal, Lower Pomeroon, were found dead with gunshot wounds to their heads at Baharally’s home on January 14.
A post mortem revealed that Godette was shot from a distance, while Baharally was shot at close range.
One report alleged that the two coconut farmers and a third man were drinking and smoking marijuana when Baharally shot Godette. There are suggestions that Baharally then took his own life.
Baharally’s wife later led detectives to an area where she had allegedly disposed of the murder weapon after discovering the two bodies.
Police recovered a 9mm Beretta pistol with a magazine, one .38 revolver, 16 live cartridges, 21 live .38 rounds, 19 live 9mm rounds, six .32 rounds, two 9mm spent shells and 51.5 grams of cannabis.
The GFSL began conducting tests for the Guyana Police Force on March 1, 2017.
The Director had said that the lab had “boxes upon boxes of evidence” to process, including toxicology tests, and tests on currency, and for blood.
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