Retrial for prison escapee accused of attempted murder gets underway

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Recaptured prison escapee, Stafrei Alexander, facing retrial for the attempted murder of Curtis Thom that occurred on March 23, 2015, once again, denied the allegation before Justice Sandil Kissoon at the High Court on Wednesday.

Accused: Stafrei “Hopkinson” Alexander

The matter was adjourned to June 25, 2018.

Alexander is being represented by Senior Counsels, Stanley Moore and Maxwell McKay while Attorneys Lisa Cave and Orithia Schmidt are appearing for the State.

At his last hearing in November of 2017, Alexander turned up at the High Court for his sentencing, a month after a jury found him guilty of the attempted murder of Curtis Thom.

However, presiding judge, Justice Brassington Reynolds announced that the accused would have to undergo another trial.

Prior to deliberations on October 30, it was discovered that one of the jurors was below the age of 18.

That juror was duly discharged, and the remaining 11 deliberated and found Alexander guilty by a 9-2 proportion for the March 23, 2015, attempted murder of Curtis Thom.

However, Justice Reynolds conceded that he had “erroneously” formed the opinion that a verdict of such proportion could be accepted by the court.

His new contention was guided by his review of the Criminal Law (Procedure) Act, Chapter 10:01, Laws of Guyana.

It was observed that a 10-1 verdict would have been acceptable.

After the revelations, Alexander’s attorney Stanley Moore, SC, stated that the jury should be discharged, and Prosecutor Tiffini Lyken concurred, further observing that the State shares the opinion that the verdict was improper and/or invalid.

Justice Reynolds thereafter discharged the 11 remaining jury members, and ruled that Alexander’s case ended in a hung jury, as the court could not properly receive a 9-2 verdict.

Alexander, an inmate who had fled lawful custody multiple times, was accused of the attempted murder of fellow Laing Avenue, Georgetown resident Thom by way of discharging a loaded firearm in his direction.

Thom was shot hours after his daughter’s christening.

The court had heard that based on his beliefs, Thom proceeded to walk into his home backwards after the christening, when Alexander mumbled remarks and pointed a gun at him.

Thom was shot twice, and was hospitalised for seven weeks, during which he obtained surgery to correct his injuries.

Based on the account of an expert witness, a .38 revolver was the firearm of choice on the night in question, but the prosecution disclosed that the weapon used was not found.

Alexander, who is also known as Stafrei Hopkinson Alexander was apprehended in late July 2017 after a special operation in Berbice.

This came weeks after he had fled the Camp Street Penitentiary during an inferno around the same time when several prisoners, including death row inmate Mark Royden “Smallie” Williams and now dead former policeman and prisoner Uree Varswyck had fled.

Prison officer Odinga Wickham was killed during that ordeal, which flattened the century-old sections of the prison.

At the time of his arrest, Alexander was said to have been receiving medical attention for an existing wound.

Alexander had previously fled lawful custody for six months before finally being recaptured at Kurupukari Crossing in the Rupununi, Region Nine (Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo) in May 2016.

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