Occasional allegations of bribery, shortages of trained court personnel, postponements at the request of the defence or prosecution, poor tracking of cases, and police tardiness in preparing cases for trial, highlights a recent report by the U.S. Department of State on Guyana’s humans rights practices.
According to the report, “The law provides for an independent and impartial judiciary in civil matters, and the government generally respected this provision. Individuals can access the court system to initiate lawsuits seeking damages for, or cessation of, human rights violations. The magistrates’ courts deal with both criminal and civil matters.”
The report noted, “Delays, inefficiencies, and alleged corruption in the magistrates’ court system affected citizens’ ability to seek timely remedies in civil matters, and there was a large backlog of civil cases. Citizens have the right to appeal adverse domestic decisions to the Caribbean Court of Justice.”
The judiciary is a powerful weapon against corruption and the delivering of justice. Under the constitution of Guyana every citizen is guaranteed fairness in the judicial system. But within the justice system there are a number of organizations that could be involved in corrupt practices before a case reaches the courts. These include the police force, lawyers and prosecutors.
For instance, last month, Former Police Corporal Kerry Bostwick, who was a prosecutor attached to the court Superintendent Office at the Brickdam Police Station was charged with three counts of fraud and released on $150,000 bail. This was after he allegedly took a total of $300,000 from persons by falsely pretending he could have a Magistrate dismiss a case against a man charged with the possession of an illegal firearm.
According to the charges, between December 2016 and January 31, 2017, at Georgetown, Bostwick, 34, of Kitty, Georgetown, obtained $100,000 from Oxcarine Hardy, Tollecia Odle and Moreine Kalli, respectively to have the charge dismissed against Tyrone Kennedy, a family member of the individuals.
Reports indicate that Kennedy was charged in 2016 for being in possession of an unlicensed firearm. The charge alleged that on November 25, 2016, at Georgetown, Kennedy had in his possession one Glock .40 pistol without being a licensed firearm owner.
Bostwick, who was the prosecutor for Kennedy’s matter, allegedly told the relatives that he can have the magistrate dismiss the case if they pay him the sum of $300,000. On three separate occasions, the victims allegedly met with Bostwick and handed over the monies.
However, Kennedy was still found guilty of the offence and sentenced to prison. As a result this family moved to reclaim their money. A police report was made and thus the present charges were brought against Bostwick. This matter is still before the court.
In another instance, former traffic police rank Chris Brown of La Parfaite Harmonie, West Bank Demerara, was hauled before a Magistrate after it was alleged that he took a $10,000 bribe on behalf of a truck driver who had committed a traffic offence.
According to the charge filed against him on July 2018, on December 7, 2017 at Ruimveldt Police Station, while being an agent of the State, Brown, along with Officer Mark Collins, corruptly obtained from Iyana Hutson, the sum of $10,000, as an inducement or reward for foregoing to charge Dwayne Dover with a traffic offence. Brown was granted bail in the sum of $5,000.
It is alleged that a 44-year-old contractor’s supervisor was driving a Canter truck in the vicinity of Industrial Site, Ruimveldt when he was stopped by Brown and another traffic rank for an alleged traffic violation. According to information, the two traffic ranks were lured into a sting operation after the employee recorded the serial numbers on the monies and handed the information over to a police sergeant.
Brown reportedly then solicited $15,000 to forgo the charge. The driver contacted his supervisor who wrote down the serial numbers of some bills. He then notified a police sergeant at the Ruimveldt Police Station of the incident and gave him the serial numbers.
It is alleged that the contractor went to the Ruimveldt Police Station where he reportedly handed over $10,000 to the defendant, who allegedly gave another traffic rank the cash. The two ranks were later searched and police, it is claimed, retrieved the cash, with the corresponding serial numbers, in the pockets of one of them.
Last year October, three former police ranks were sentenced to one year imprisonment and each fined $25,000 after they were found guilty of accepting a six million dollar bribe back in October 2015. They are Shawn McPhoy of 174 Laing Avenue, West Ruimveldt, Ray Drepaul Saul of Eversham, Corentyne, and Trevon McKenzie of Princeton, Corriverton, Corentyne.
According to reports, on September 10, 2015, a police patrol including the three men were performing duties in Corentyne when they stopped and search a minibus which was loaded with cash and cocaine. It is alleged that the ranks on patrol, with the most senior one at the time being a corporal, entered into negotiations with the occupants of the vehicle, which led to the occupants of the vehicle handing over $6 million in cash to the ranks.
The ranks then allowed the vehicle to continue its journey, and even reportedly provided some amount of escort for the vehicle before returning to a Police Station. Subsequent to the issuing of a Notice of Appeal, the three were each released on $50,000 by the Magistrate.
But police ranks are not the only ones allegedly corrupting the court system. Sometime in 2016, Sharmilla Inderjali, the mother of US-based businessman and fugitive, Marcus Bisram, and Maryanna Lionel, were charged with offering a detectives $4 M for him to suppress evidence against Bisram, who is wanted in Guyana for the murder of Berbice carpenter Faiyaz Narinedatt.
The women, who are each out on $150,000 bail have denied the charge, and are still on trial in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts. They allegedly committed the crime in November 2016 at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters, Eve Leary, Georgetown.
A number of exhibits seized from suspects and taken into custody by police have often disappeared. They were either confiscated at the crime scene or seized from the suspects who would later end up before the courts on varying charges. Two Fridays ago, a police corporal and a barrack labourer were under close arrest as investigators attempt to ascertain how a revolver that is linked to the shooting death of Marlon Fredericks was removed from a safe-box at the East Ruimveldt Police Outpost.
The corporal is reportedly one of the individuals who had the keys to a strongbox in which the revolver and other firearm are kept. According to reports, the corporal who is under investigation, alerted ranks at the station that the revolver, which is the property of the City Constabulary, was missing.
Shortly after, ranks at the station received an anonymous call from an individual who said that he had found a firearm a short distance from the outpost.
The firearm is linked to the January 2018 manslaughter case in which Gregory Bascom, a City Constabulary lance corporal, was charged for killing 34-year-old Tiger Bay resident Marlon Fredericks.
According to reports, Fredericks, 34, who was unarmed, was shot by Bascom as he escaped from detention at the Bourda Market Outpost.
The Tiger Bay resident, who was described as mentally ill, was shot in his mother’s presence, as he ran out of the Outpost, where he was being detained on allegations of simple larceny, assault, and for assaulting a peace officer. The accused killer is on $800,000 bail as his case is still ongoing.
In September 2017, almost four kilograms of cocaine, which was tendered as evidence in a trial, disappeared from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Headquarters.
According to reports, the cocaine which was concealed in a suitcase disappeared from the storage room of the Officer in Charge of the Narcotics Branch, Wayne DeHearte. Kaieteur News was told that the illegal substance is related to the case involving ex-policeman Travis Mendonca, who was recently sentenced to three years in prison after cocaine was discovered stashed in a false bottom of his suitcase.
The ex-cop was preparing to board a New York bound flight when the discovery was reportedly made.
The cocaine was discovered missing the same day that a second suspect in the same case, 28-year-old Delvor Bunbury turned himself in—almost two weeks after a wanted bulletin was issued for his arrest.
In May 2017, several police ranks were under investigation after it was discovered that a ‘toy gun’ was tendered into evidence during a gun and ammunition trial before a City Magistrate. This matter has to do with charges filed against gold miner Carl Carter of Diamond, East Bank Demerara for possession of an illegal firearm and ammunition.
According to reports, on October 08, 2016, police ranks acting on information entered the premises of the popular night spot where they searched Carter and found the illegal gun and ammunition in his possession.
The firearm was submitted to the Crime Laboratory at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Headquarters and after examination, it was found to be a firearm by the ballistic expert. One of the police ranks who examined the weapon signed when he uplifted it from the Brickdam Police Station.
The rank also reportedly signed when he returned the firearm after tests were carried out. However, when the rank turned up to identify the weapon in court on March 28 it was revealed that it was not the weapon he had tested. It had reportedly been replaced with a toy gun.
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