Amid scenes of jubilation from some and streams of tears from others, Davendra Ruplall, who was on trial for the murder of Suresh Goberdhan at Dochfour, East Coast Demerara (ECD), was on Tuesday afternoon freed of the charge.
The 12-member jury returned with their not guilty verdict after some two-and-half hours of deliberations at the Demerara High Court, where Ruplall was absolved of the January 2014 killing of Goberdhan, who died after a row over two games of pool. His dead body was discovered on a dam at Dochfour with multiple head injuries.
After Ruplall was freed amid a packed courtroom, he said “it feels great to be free”, and added that he plans to pursue a job in finance.
While his family members were overjoyed, the relatives of Suresh Goberdhan could not contain their disappointment over Tuesday’s verdict, and several persons broke down outside Court Three after Justice Jo-Ann Barlow announced that the then murder accused was a free man.
The Judge told Ruplall now that he is a “free young man”, he should “stay away from rum shops” and to avoid spending so many hours consuming alcohol as was done on that fateful night.
The jury’s decision comes nearly one month after the trial first began, which eventually saw 15 witnesses taking the stand to testify. Chief among those who testified was Khemraj Persaud, who testified for the prosecution.
It was contended that after the murder accused had lost two games of pool, he, Goberdhan and chief witness Persaud, were headed to another rum shop on two bicycles when Ruplall alleged threatened the deceased. He allegedly picked up a piece of steel, said to be three feet in length, and “lashed” Goberdhan to his head, then dragged him to the ‘sea dam’ and “lashed him more to his face”.
In summing up the trial on Tuesday morning, Justice Barlow told the jury that they had to consider why the Police did not send the rock found at site for testing earlier in the case. This rock was shown once again in court on Tuesday. The jury was reminded of Corporal Benjamin’s testimony that he did not check the rock as his investigation directed that it was not the murder weapon.
When Government Pathologist, Dr Nehaul Singh testified last week, giving evidence in relation to the post-mortem examination that he conducted on the body of Goberdhan, he disclosed that the deceased suffered injuries to his shoulders, lacerations to his chin, left cheek, neck, and between the eyebrows. Dr Singh further explained that the young man also had suffered multiple fractures to the head.
The jury was once again reminded that a strong scent of alcohol was detected in Goberdhan’s stomach, but was cautioned against using the belief that heavy alcohol consumption by Ruplall was responsible for the young man’s death.
When the prosecution had first presented its case, it was alleged that at the scene of the incident on January 16, 2014, Ruplall ran through Goberdhan’s pockets and stole his money and mobile phone, while the eyewitness, Khemraj Persaud, had shouted several times for the murder accused to “stop”.
At this point, a man who lived across the road, Orin Calendar, also witnessed the ordeal and explained that he saw the “lashing” from his veranda. Sometime after, when threats were made to call the Police, Ruplall reportedly jumped onto his bicycle and fled the scene while Persaud also rode through the sea dam. Ruplall pleaded not guilty to the capital offence.
The State’s Prosecutors were Siand Dhurjon and Shawnette Austin, while Defence Counsel Sandhill Kissoon represented the murder accused.