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Guyana: After 7 years on remand, acquitted man slaps Gov’t with $100M lawsuit

By NEWS ROOM GUYANA

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Cloyde Harris with his lawyer, Dexter Todd

(NEWS ROOM GUYANA) — A man who was acquitted of a murder charge after spending seven years in prison while on remand will be suing the State for $100M for wrongful imprisonment.

Cloyde Harris, now 32-year-old, was freed of the murder charge on July 5, 2019, by Magistrate Alex Moore at the Sparendaam Magistrate’s Court following the conclusion of a Preliminary Inquiry (PI) on the grounds that there is insufficient evidence.

Harris spent approximately seven years, seven months and five days on remand at the Camp Street prison after being charged for the murder of his cousin, 71-year-old Derrick Cox, who was murdered on December 22, 2012, at Ramos Street, Plaisance, East Coast Demerara.

Cox, called ‘Backatoo’, was shot in the chest at around 22:50 hrs on the day in question by bandits who had attacked him outside his shop. There are reports that the killers escaped in a white car.

However, an alleged eyewitness claimed that he saw Harris in the area running away from the scene but the witness later withdrew that statement.

In October 2013, Magistrate Moore committed Harris to be tried at the High Court, however, the jacket and deposition was not submitted to the Director of Public Prosecution(DPP) and stayed with the Clerk of Court on the East Coast of Demerara District until 2016.

The DPP then wrote to Magistrate Moore and asked him to reopen the PI for additional evidence since the main witness failed to testify and one of the exhibits was not marked.

On December 27, 2018, the PI was re-opened by Magistrate Moore and Harris sought the legal representation of Attorney-at-law Dexter Todd.

The witness finally came forward and stated that he/she never saw Harris at the murder scene.

Magistrate Moore dismissed the matter against Harris due to insufficient evidence.

On Monday, Attorney Todd told reporters that he will be suing the State on behalf of his client for malicious prosecution and wrongful imprisonment.

The lawsuit will be filed on Tuesday by Attorney Todd at the Georgetown High Court.

Speaking with reporters, Harris explained that he was arrested when he was 26 and is trying to make up for his time lost.

“Everybody look at you different when you get charge for murder… the time you pass that prison gate, whether you’re guilty or not with that charge, society is look at your different,” Harris told reporters.

“I got to live with that…I can’t even walk in my house, my village looking small… everything just strange,” the man said as he explained that he is trying to adjust not being behind bars.

“It was real hard, got to make up your mind, the only way out was through the court.”

Meanwhile, attorney Todd said, “The State has to be held responsible, I believe that it was a wild prosecution, there is no evidence against him [Harris].

“The guy practically lost everything,” Todd said as he explained that the Police’s case was weak and they failed to carry out a proper investigation.

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