– Third accused acquitted but remained on remand
BY RAMONA LUTHI
Almost 9 years after the horrific Bartica massacre, gang members Mark Royden Williams, called ‘Durant’ and ‘Smallie’; and Dennis Williams, called ‘Anaconda’ were late Thursday night sentenced to death by hanging while the third accused Roger Anthony Simon, called ‘Goat Man’ was freed.
Mark Williams and Dennis Williams were both found guilty on 7 counts of murder, and 5 counts of manslaughter while Roger Simon was found not guilty on all counts. Simon, however, will remain on remand until today (Friday) because he has other charges pending against him including terrorism.
The much anticipated verdict was handed down after 23:00 hrs Thursday night by Justice Roxanne George, SC.
The three accused, Roger Anthony Simon, called ‘Goat Man’; Mark Royden Williams, called ‘Durant’ and ‘Smallie’; and Dennis Williams, called ‘Anaconda’, were accused of being among a number of gunmen who attacked the mining community of Bartica, Essequibo, on February 17, 2008, killing 12 residents.
The three accused are said to have murdered Lance Corporal Zaheer Zakir, Constable Shane Fredericks and Constable Ron Osborne; Edwin Gilkes, Abdool Yassin Jr, Deonarine Singh, Errol Thomas, Ronald Gomes, Baldeo Singh, Ashraf Khan, Irving Ferreira and Dexter Adrian.
On that fateful night, 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.
Mark Williams, who was identified as the one who handed a gun to gang leader Rondell “Fineman” Rawlins to shoot 5 persons at the Bartica Ferry Stelling at close range was found guilty on 7 counts of murder, and 5 counts of manslaughter.
His accomplice, Dennis Williams – who was in absentia – was also found guilty on 7 counts of murder and 5 counts of manslaughter.
Meanwhile, co-accused Roger Simon was found not guilty on all counts. Several witnesses, many of whom were called by the Prosecution, testified that he was not there when the gang executed the brutal attack but a police constable had placed him at the scene of the attack.
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, Justice George summed up the case for over seven hours. The judge had told the 12 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 told the members to place keen attention on the evidence of the prosecution’s main witnesses. They also had to take special note of the evidence of Michael Caesar who was called by the defence. Caesar provided an alternative account of how events unfolded.
Caesar was, last December, 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, 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 criminal gang to Bartica was sentenced to 420 years for the Bartica attack. Reece and another gang member, Dwane Williams, had identified Mark Williams and Dennis Williams as being part of the gang that executed the Bartica attack.
When State Prosecutor Diana Kowlessar had first presented the case, it was stated that on February 17, 2008, Mark Williams, Dennis “Anaconda” Williams, and Roger Simon, along with others, “struck terror with wanton disregard for life”, resulting in the deaths of 12 persons.
The photo (below) by INews photographer Carl Croker shows Mark Royden Williams (yellow shirt) and Roger Anthony Simon making their court appearance late on Thursday