(GUYANA CHRONICLE) – A MAN convicted of murder on Monday at the Berbice High Court has criticised the jury’s decision and is instead asking God to be the judge, after declaring that because he is poor, the court had ruled against him.
Justice Brassington Reynolds on Monday ordered a probation report on the background of the convict, Stafford Harry, called Bilall, after a 12-member jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict against him. Sentencing has been deferred to July 3.
Harry had been on the run for five years, having fled to Suriname following the March 28, 2010 murder of New Amsterdam Market vendor Hasrat Samaroo, called Watermelon.
In 2015, Troy Holligan and Ojay Gourie, who were initially indicted for Samaroo’s murder were freed after the judge upheld a “no-case submission”, and directed the mixed jury to return a verdict of “not guilty” in the men’s favour. They were represented by Attorney-at-law Peter Hugh, who is now a Magistrate.
However, at Monday’s hearing, there was a deafening silence before the convicted Harry erupted in mournful wails, proclaiming his innocence and blaming his poverty for such a verdict.
“I am innocent! I am innocent!” he wailed. “Is because I have no money for a top lawyer, the jury finds me guilty while I am innocent.
“How can I live my life! I do hope that none of the jurors have children who may have to face the courts, and they are found guilty when they are innocent!
“The Samaroo family lie on me! This same jury went to the scene of the crime and whilst there they say Samaroo wife lie; now they saying me guilty! God! Wheh yuh deh!”
Recreating the scene for the benefit of the court, State Prosecutrix Tuanna Hardy in her opening address said that it was around 19:00hrs on the evening of March 27, 2010 that Samaroo and his wife, Kumarie, were at their home at Hampshire Village, Corentyne.
Hansraj was watching television in the living room in the upper flat of the two-storey building, Hardy said, whilst his wife was cooking in the kitchen downstairs.
The lights were on in the house, and as Kumarie was cooking, she was confronted by a man with a gun.
And as Kumarie called out to her husband, the man with the gun quickly mounted the inner stairs to get to him before he could come down, and no sooner had he done that than she heard what sounded like a gunshot.
Staying with the story, Hardy said when Kumarie went upstairs to see what was going on, she saw the said man with the gun and her husband standing there bleeding from his groin.
Kumarie also saw two other men, Hardy and they, too, were armed with what appeared to be guns. She was relieved of a total of G$600,000 and US$1500 which she had in her wardrobe, and the five gold bangles and five gold finger rings valued $400,000 which she had on her person.
According to the State Prosecutrix, the post mortem report revealed that Samaroo’s death was consistent with his injury, as among other things, he died of a laceration of the femoral artery. What was interesting however, was that no mention was made of a gunshot injury.
Another witness, one Detective Sergeant Lawrence Thomas, in his evidence in chief, recalled that whilst being stationed at the Whim Police Station on September 2, 2015, he contacted the accused who was in custody, having been earlier deported from Suriname.
And he said that when the allegation of murder was put to Harry under caution, he denied killing Samaroo. Thomas recalled, too, that after Samaroo was killed, checks were made for Harry but reports had revealed that he had vacated the area.
Responding to a certain line of questioning by Legal Aid Defence Counsel Sasha Roberts, the detective said the accused did not tell him that he was working with his brothers, Dwayne Ridley and Sherwin Terrence, in neighbouring Suriname.
Further, Thomas said he did not cause a confrontation between the accused and the Samaroos, and that neither was an identification parade held or did anyone point out the accused as the person who committed the crime.