2 sentenced to death by hanging, 1 acquitted

first_imgBartica Massacre trialBy Shemuel FanfairAlmost nine years after the horrific Bartica attack that rocked the nation, gang members Mark Royden Williams, called “Smallie”, and Dennis Williams, called “Anaconda”, were on Thursday found guilty of seven counts of murder each by a 12-member jury.Roger “Goatman” Simon rejoicing after being acquitted in the Bartica Massacre Trial by Justice GeorgeIn a shocked but silent courtroom around 23:00h on Thursday, presiding Judge Roxane George, SC, sentenced the two to death, noting that they would be executed by way of hanging by the neck.Additionally, the men were found guilty on five counts each of manslaughter, but a ruling on those matters was deferred to this afternoon. When asked by the Judge to respond, Mark Williams, who appeared unmoved by the sentence, simply declined.“I have nothing to say,” he told the court which was packed to capacity. During the trial, Mark was identified as the one who handed a gun to gang leader Rondell “Fineman” Rawlins to shoot five persons at the Bartica Ferry Stelling, at close range.Family members and well-wishers of Roger “Goatman” Simon shouting“freedom” and dancing upon hearing the verdictHis accomplice, Dennis Williams, received his sentence in absentia, as he further declined to attend his trial. However, his defence counsel, Shaphier Husain who was re-assigned to him by the State, protested the death sentences for both men, citing United Nations and Commonwealth Human Rights conventions. He appealed for custodial sentences to be imposed for the two convicts. Justice George, in response, noted that she indeed granted such sentences and appreciated the human rights concerns raised. She, however, indicated that the death penalties were handed down owing to the nature of the crimes committed.Not guiltyMeanwhile, the jury, which deliberated for over four hours, found Roger “Goat Man” Simon not guilty on all 12 counts, but he remains remanded to prison pending the outcome of other charges. His Defence Attorney, Peter Hugh made bail applications to the court, but Justice George has deferred a ruling on five other counts related to the Bartica Massacre – three counts of Break and Enter and Larceny, one count of unlawful wounding, and one count of terrorism.As families of the accused awaited the verdict near and around the court, a tense atmosphere persisted. After Justice George sentenced Mark Williams and Dennis Williams to death, many were heard stifling surprised expressions, as the Court Marshall had ordered silence before the sentence was read.Moments after the announcement that Roger Simon was absolved of the 12 counts, family members and well-wishers grinned from ear to ear as they exited the courtroom and ran to meet him in the lower flat of the High Court, as law enforcement ranks took him away to the prisoner’s holding cell. A large group of persons who were seen outside the court shouted “freedom” and danced as Simon was all smiles.Several witnesses, many of whom were called by the prosecution, had testified that Simon was not there when the gang executed the attack, but a police constable had placed him at the scene.It was on February 17, 2008, that 12 persons, including three Policemen, were slaughtered as gunmen carried out a deadly rampage while members of the community were watching a game of 20/20 cricket on television. On that fateful night, Police Lance Corporal Zaheer Zakir and Constables Shane Fredericks and Ron Osborne were fatally shot, while Edwin Gilkes, Dexter Adrian, Irving Ferreira, Deonarine Singh, Ronald Gomes, Ashraf Khan, Abdool Yasseen, Errol Thomas and Baldeo Singh were the civilians killed.Over 30 witnesses testified in the case that lasted over three months. Many family members testified to witnessing the post-mortem examination conducted by Government Pathologist, Dr Nehaul Singh who had also testified to the multiple gunshot injuries that the victims suffered.Before the jury deliberated on Thursday, Justice George summed up the case for over seven hours. The Judge had told the 12 jury members of their obligation to be fair when they considered all of the evidence. The jury was told that the passage of time can affect recollection of events. She also told the members to pay keen attention to the evidence of the prosecution’s main witnesses Clebert Reece and Dwane Williams, two gang members who identified Mark and Dennis as being present at Bartica. The jury also had to take special note of the evidence of Michael Caesar, who was called by the defence. He had provided an alternative account of how events unfolded, saying that the two accused were not present.Caesar, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter, was on December last sentenced to 45 years each for eight counts of manslaughter in the Lusignan Massacre, while he was sentenced to 60 years for 12 counts of manslaughter in the Bartica Massacre, resulting in a 1080-year sentence. He will have to spend at least 40 calendar years in jail before he can attempt to acquire parole. Co-accused Clebert Reece, who was the boat driver that transported the gang to Bartica, was sentenced to 420 years for the Bartica attack.When State Prosecutor Diana Kaulesar had first presented the case last year, it was stated that on February 17, 2008, Mark Williams, Dennis Williams, and Roger Simon, along with others, “struck terror with wanton disregard for life”, resulting in the deaths of 12 persons. The prosecution’s case was led by Diana Kaulesar and assisted by Stacy Goodings, while Roger Yearwood represented Mark Williams.last_img read more

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