Five of the suspects who allegedly invaded an Upper Corentyne fisherman’s home and carried away $1.7 million in jewellery, $100,000 in cash, and other miscellaneous items were on Monday arraigned before Springlands Magistrate Rabindranauth Singh, before whom they were not required to plead to a slew of indictable charges, and were all remanded until August 24, when the prosecution would be expected to present a progress report.
The five detained suspects are: 19-year-old Styovan Bhowan of Number 70 Village, Corentyne, said to be the mastermind of the invasion; 23-year-old Rabindra Kumar of Number 73 Village, the alleged driver of the getaway car. He was reportedly found with illegal drugs, a firearm and ammunition not far from the crime scene, and has already been placed before the court for those offences. Thirty-four-year-old Heresh Kuman Rai, called ‘Ryan,’ a security guard and resident of Number 73 Village, Corentyne; 33-year-old Mahindra Singh, also called ‘Sunil’, an unemployed resident of Number 72 Village; and 27-year-old Khemraj Singh, a fisherman of Number 69 Village, Corentyne.
The court was told that, on August 5, 2017, at Lot 100 Number 69 Village, Upper Corentyne, seven armed men stormed the home of Sachin Ramrattan.
After ransacking the house, they took away a large quantity of jewellery and cash, a tablet and a cellular phone.
Ramrattan, his wife Vidya Gopaul, 26, and their 4-year-old son had retired to bed at 22:30 hrs on the day in question.
The pregnant woman, who was not asleep, reportedly heard a loud noise and voices, and immediately awoke her husband. Fearful, the husband jumped off their bed and switched on the lights, and the family then realised that bandits had entered their home. He had switched on the lights to ward off the men, while his pregnant wife bolted the bedroom door.
The men were already in the house and banging on the bedroom door when Ramrattan, his wife and son exited the home via the bedroom window and landed on the neighbour’s shed. By then some of the men had entered the room after the Ramrattan family had exited same, and they fired two shots as the family ran for safety.
Although the alleged suspects have been apprehended, the victim of this home invasion has said he does not feel safe, and is calling on the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to put in place systems that would enable quicker response times to distressed persons.
The fisherman said the police responded two hours after initially being informed that a gang of heavily armed bandits were attacking and invading his home.
Ramrattan was a part of a group which met with Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan and Police ‘B’ Division Commander, Assistant Commissioner Paul Williams, on Sunday at the Number 66 Village Fisherman’s Co-op Complex. He detailed to these functionaries that he had telephoned the New Amsterdam and Whim Police Stations in a bid to get a quicker response from the Springlands Police Station.
Also included in that group was former President of the Upper Corentyne Chamber of Commerce, Kumar Doodnauth, who said the chamber is very concerned about what has been happening along the Upper Corentyne.
“We, the members of the business community, are the ones who suffer the most,” he related as he appealed for a quicker police response time.
Police Commander Williams, however, noted that the officers had responded quickly, which was why they were able to apprehend the driver. Williams explained that on many occasions, when the police are responding to a robbery, they do not go straight to the actual site, but comb the area and position themselves at strategic places in an attempt to apprehend the perpetrators.
He noted that, at Number 72 Village, the police were able to apprehend the driver even before he was able to get back to the pre-arranged location for a rendezvous with the robbers.
Minister Ramjattan had earlier said there is a shortage of vehicles in the Guyana Police Force. He said there is not enough money to purchase vehicles.
However, he noted that $111 million have been set aside to purchase vehicles for the Police Force this year. Some of those vehicles will be sent to Berbice, while Linden and Essequibo will also be getting some.
He explained that the money had been allocated since January, but bureaucracy in the tendering process had delayed purchase of the vehicles, which should arrive before the end of the year.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Government has also promised to supply two hundred vehicles to the local police. Those are also expected before the end of the year. (Andrew Carmichael)