Inside the life of Zaila Sugrim, who suffered 15 years of abuse

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Zalia Sugrim

Zaila Sugrim, 37, suffered some 15 years of abuse from her husband, Ryan Sugrim, with whom she had five children.

Her body was yesterday found in a shallow grave in the backyard of her husband’s home at Crane, West Coast Demerara (WCD).

In 2018, Sugrim had finally mustered up the courage to leave her husband, the owner of a Shell Gas Station, which is located in front of the house where they lived.

The estranged husband has since confessed to killing the woman; he remains in police custody.

The pair met at the University of Guyana (UG) and in 2004, they tied the knot, in what was described as a joyous and grand ceremony.

However, shortly after, their relationship rapidly deteriorated.

According to Sugrim’s brother, Ahmad Haniff, it all went downhill when his sister’s husband attacked their father.

Ahmad Haniff

He explained that there was a disagreement between his sister and her husband, which led to the man allegedly chopping Kalam Ahmad (their father) to his head.

The relationship between the families were strained thereafter, resulting in the husband banning his wife from seeing her family. The family was also banned from visiting.

However, some 15 years later, Haniff recalled receiving a call from someone claiming to be his sister. He was in disbelief as he had not heard from his sister in years.

“She contacted we by phone and we didn’t even know it was her, we had to ask she certain questions and then we realise that it was her,” he explained.

Sugrim was calling from a hospital bed, where she was recovering after being severely beaten by her husband. The incident had occurred on December 14, 2018 – and it was her last straw.

The matter was reported to the Police and her husband was arrested and charged. He was taken before the Leonora Magistrate’s Court after he was charged for unlawfully and maliciously causing grievous bodily harm to Sugrim.

The woman who was present at the hearing had expressed fear for her life. However, in a bail application at the time, the suspect’s attorney informed the court that he was the sole breadwinner for his five children and he was granted bail on the condition that he stays 100 feet away from Sugrim.

Following the incident, the woman had moved in with her brother. Not being able to provide for her children, she gave up custody to the suspect. She was however allowed to visit her children.

Residents at the scene of the crime

It was on Saturday last (May 11, 2019), Sugrim left her brother’s Diamond, East Bank Demerara (EBD) house where she had been living for the last eight months, to be picked up by her estranged husband to visit the businessman’s home where she was expected to celebrate the birthday of her eldest child.

However, the 14-year-old child reported that she did not see nor hear from her mother.
By nightfall, Sugrim’s family became worried since it was very unusual for her not to call if she was out for long periods.

“In the afternoon like around six o’clock I get worried because she does normally call me and she and I coming home lil late or I might not come home… so when I see six o’clock, I calling she phone, she phone turn off, I call me sista, me brother them and so, father, everybody saying that no, them aint hear from she… at around 10, 11 the night, I keep calling no response,” her brother explained.

On Sunday morning, the worried man visited the Diamond Police Station where he filled a missing persons’ report. In the company of several Police Officers, a visit was made to his sister’s estranged husband’s home, where the man was uncooperative, but nonetheless informed Haniff and the Police that he did not see Zaila nor does he want anything to do with her.

After realising that something was amiss, the suspect’s children reportedly inspected CCTV footage of the home but a particular time period was deleted.

This was reported to Sugrim’s relatives, who in turn informed Police ranks. This led to ranks swooping down on the suspect’s La Grange, West Bank Demerara (WBD) property where a search was carried out, however, nothing was found.

After relatives made additional reports on Monday at the Diamond Police Station, another group of ranks swooped down on the suspect’s Crane home.

After a search of the suspect’s motorcar, it was then that the Police received a break in the case after blood was spotted in the car’s trunk. This prompted Police to arrest the suspect and impound the car.

After much interrogation, the suspect finally broke down and confessed that he indeed killed his estranged wife and led Police to where he buried the body, which was buried in a shallow grave.

Priya Manickand at the scene of the crime

At the scene of the crime, the woman’s five children were crying uncontrollably. They had to be consoled by Priya Manickchand, the attorney who was helping their mother escape from her abusive marriage.

“She was really trying to get out of this abusive relationship, that was abusive for many years that she had allegedly against the person they have in custody right now, which was her husband and that is where I was representing her,” Manickchand explained.

Babita Sarjou

The situation is reminiscent of that of Babita Sarjou, a young woman who had left her mother’s home in November 2010 to spend time with her estranged husband and four-year-old son at the Diwali Motorcades.

She was never seen or heard from since then and the case became cold. However, some six years later, the case was reopened and police found the woman’s decomposed body buried in a grave in the backyard of her estranged husband’s Campbellville home.

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