Bibi Gopaul who is currently serving a 106-year prison sentence for the 2010 murder of her 16-year-old daughter, Neesa Gopaul has begged the Court of Appeal (CoA) for leave to retain a lawyer to argue against her conviction and sentence.
On Thursday, acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Justices of Appeal Rishi Persaud and Dawn Gregory convened a case management conference for the appeal filed by Bibi and her ex-lover, Jarvis Small, who was sentenced to 96 years in prison for committing the same crime.
During the hearing, Gopaul was granted until October 15, 2020 to retain a lawyer. If she was unable to do so by then, the State would assign a lawyer to her case. Small is being represented by Attorneys-at-Law Nigel Hughes and Ronald Daniels.
Small’s lawyers have already filed submissions to which State Prosecutor Stacy Gooding has replied. The Appeal Court has fixed the case for full hearing on Monday, October 19, 2020 via Zoom.
Following a trial at the High Court in Demerara in March 2015, the elder Gopaul and Small were found guilty of murdering Neesa, a former student of Queen’s College on October 2, 2010. Shortly after, the two killers had expressed dissatisfaction with the verdict, claiming that they were not given a fair trial. They had accused the Judge of taking a political side and admitting prejudicial evidence for the jury’s consideration.
The dismembered and headless remains of the younger Gopaul were found stuffed in a suitcase in a creek along the Linden-Soesdyke Highway. Also discovered were a passport and a bank card that bore the teen’s name.
The suitcase was wrapped with rope and attached to dumbbells in an apparent effort to keep the young woman’s body submerged. The former QC student was found weeks after she was reported missing from her Leonora, West Coast Demerara (WCD) home. Her cause of death was given as multiple blunt force trauma to the head.
Both Gopaul and Small are contesting their conviction and sentence on the basis that the trial judge made several errors in law which included admitting prejudicial evidence and failing to properly direct the jury.
They argue that the sentences received were excessive, irrational and not grounded in any established legal principles as required by law.
In his Notice of Appeal filed, Small argues that the Judge erred in law when he ruled that he and Bibi should be tried jointly for the offence, instead of having separate trials as requested by his lawyer back then.
He further argued that the Judge erred in law when he overruled a no-case submission made on his behalf. He and Bibi contend that the evidence of prosecution witness Simone De Nobrega was prejudicial.
The two murder convicts have advanced further grounds in support of their application in which they are asking the court to set aside the verdict of the jury.