Less than two weeks after being apprehended by Police in Berbice, Mark Royden Williams, called “Smallie”, along with another accused, Sherwin Nero, also known as “Catty”, appeared at the Demerara High Court on Tuesday in connection with the murder of businessman Kumar Singh, called “Mango Man” which occurred 10 years ago.
On August 30, 2007, four gunmen invaded Singh’s Cove and John, East Coast Demerara home during which the businessman was shot and killed.
It was in July 2008 that the two suspects were initially charged for the capital offence but the duo, escorted to court amid heavy security on Tuesday, could not enter pleas due to the defence’s objections that offered several citations to support its case.
Nero has a pending constitutional motion which contends that nine years waiting for a trial violates Article 144 of Guyana’s Constitution which stipulates for an accused to have a trial within reasonable time.
Defence Counsel for the two accused, Nigel Hughes, cited Justice Simone Morris-Ramlall’s recent ruling that the State breached the constitutional rights of former murder accused, Basil Morgan who was committed to stand trial in October 2014 after being arrested in 2010.
Hughes in his address before Justice Brassington Reynolds told the court that the murder charges against the two should be discharged but the Judge granted the prosecution time to respond to his objections. In his lengthy application, Hughes cited a recent Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) determination that a period of six years was not reasonable time for an accused to be granted trial.
Hughes, however, conceded that the CCJ did not arrive at arithmetic calculation to specify what a reasonable time was.
The attorney further explained that Nero intended to rely on a now deceased witness who had offered an alibi for the whereabouts of the accused, contrary to the State’s case placing “Catty” at the scene of the crime.
This witness died two years ago which was some three years after the Preliminary Inquiry (PI) was finally closed in 2012. The defence said either the prosecution could impose an indefinite stay on the murder indictment or the court should discharge the case without trial.
State Prosecutor Shawnette Austin relayed to Justice Reynolds of the State’s request for time to respond as the prosecution was not given instructions on Nero’s pending constitutional motion.
Williams escaped prison in July 2017 after being sentenced to death in February for the 2008 Bartica massacre. During his escape, prison officer Odinga Wickham was killed and the century old prison was reduced to ashes. Williams was recaptured on October 9, 2017 on his way to Suriname. He was a passenger in a minibus which was intercepted at Weldaad, West Coast Berbice.
The case came up for High Court trial in June 2014 but was prevented from continuing due to an objection by one of the then three accused. The next hearing for the current case is set for November 23.