A co-accused in the Bartica and Lusignan massacres was on Thursday afternoon sentenced to 105 years imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to 20 counts of manslaughter in both massacres.
In a dramatic and shocking twist of events at the High Court, Michael Caesar, 34, pleaded guilty to eight counts of manslaughter for the 2008 Lusignan massacre as well as to 12 counts of manslaughter in October for 2008 Bartica massacre.
Caesar was accused of unlawfully killing Clarence Thomas, 48, his daughter Vanessa Thomas, 12, and his son Ron Thomas 11; Mohandai Gourdat, 32, and her two sons, Seegobind Harrilall, 4, and Seegopaul Harrilall, 10; Shazam Mohamed, 22; and Shaleem Baksh, 55; on January 26, 2008, at Track ‘A’ Lusignan.
State Prosecutor Diana Kaulesar stated that on the day in question, the accused met with “Fine Man” and other members of his squad at Buxton Line Top where they were engaged in Guinness drinking and smoking of marijuana.
The court heard that Caesar had planned to raid a house at Lusignan which they heard had two barrels of money.
She added that the men later that night entered Lusignan through Buxton backlands and were unsure of which house contained the money. As such the men decided to start raiding a number of houses to get the cash, however Caesar stated that they came up empty-handed after barging into several houses.
Kaulesar highlighted that Caesar claims he was never in possession of a firearm and he never killed any of the victims. Instead he stated that he only ransacked the houses in search of the barrels of money.
Caesar was further accused of unlawfully killing Zaheer Zakir, 30, Shane Fredericks, 35, Ron Osborne, Dexter Adrian, 37, Irving Ferreira, 72, Abdool Yassin Jr, Deonarine Singh, 54, Errol Thomas, Ronald Gomes, Irwin Gilkes, 42, Ashraf Khan, 45, and Baldeo Singh, 54.
Senior social and probation officer Aggrey Azore attached to the Ministry of Social Protection told Justice George in his report that he have come to the conclusion that the accused has suffered badly at the hands of a dysfunctional home. However he pointed out that many others have suffered from a broken home but they have not become a danger to society.
In his report he stated that Caesar indicated that he is remorseful for his actions also signalling fear of retribution by Fine Man’s gang.
Justice George who appeared baffled by the probation officer’s judgment stated that she finds it difficult to believe that Caesar was fearful and hesitated in the participation of the massacres, since in less than a month he committed another horrific crime claiming the lives of twelve more persons.
Meanwhile Azore maintained his position on the analysis of the defendant. He also included that he spoke with members of the community who shared positive and negative comments about Caesar. He stated that some persons said he was a willing boy in the neighbourhood while others said his name was synonymous with a number of crimes.
In mitigation, Caesar told the court that he came to the city at a tender age and followed the wrong company.
“I came in town at a very young age and I followed the wrong company. I would like to show the deceased family mercy [sympathy]. I would like to change my life around to be a better person,” stated Caesar.
Justice George told the accused that he should have shown the deceased mercy instead of now saying he would like to offer mercy. However, she told him she knows what he means but he was callous to the people’s lives.
Justice George told the accused that she has considered that fact of the senior social and probation officer reports and she will not grant him life imprisonment but he will have a very long time in prison.
In addition she stated that the court has to be cognizant of the fact that 20 persons lost their lives including children which is heart-wrecking.
She further noted that the court has to send a clear message to the young people that joining gangs is not the way to go.
Caesar was sentenced to 45 years in each of the eight counts of the Lusignan indictment while he was sentenced to 60 years in each of the 12 counts of indictment in the Bartica massacre.
Justice George said that Caesar will have to spend at least 40 calendar years in jail before he can attempt to acquire parole. (Guyana Times)