Following closing submissions by the defence and prosecution, Justice Navindra Singh will this morning sum up the evidence and put it to the jury for deliberations on a verdict in the trial of a 19-year-old man charged with murder.
For legal reasons, the name and photograph of the murder accused have been withheld from publication since he was charged for the crime when he was just 15 years old. He is accused of murdering Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara (ECD) businesswoman, Bibi Ali between October 15 and October 17, 2016.
The teenager is being represented by Attorney-at-Law Bernard DaSilva while State Counsel Tuanna Hardy is appearing for the prosecution. At the commencement of his trial earlier this week before Justice Singh and a 12-person jury, the accused pleaded not guilty to the charge.
According to media reports, the elderly woman was discovered lying face down in her home by her nephew, who went to check on her after she was not seen for some time. Reports are that Ali, a mother of three, was found lying in a pool of blood in the bedroom of her two-storey home.
It was also reported that her hands and feet were bound and her head was bashed in. A hammer was found at the crime scene, and a post-mortem report revealed that she had been sexually assaulted. It was reported that Ali’s neck was broken and there were lacerations about her body.
The woman’s house was also ransacked, leading Police to suspect she might have been robbed and then killed. Ali had operated a business in the area, supplying farmers with pesticides and weedicides.
She also sold phone cards and other items. Several of these items were missing.
During the trial, Rajendra Dindyal of Mahaicony, ECD, had testified that Ali had telephoned him on October 31, 2016, and told him that the murder accused had stolen her coconuts and threatened her. The nature of the threat was not disclosed. As a result, he said he accompanied the mother of three to the Mahaicony Police Station where she made a report.
Another witness, who was 14 years old at the time of the killing, told the court that he and the murder accused attended the same primary school. He said that he used to frequent Ali’s home and help her out with chores, and in return, she would give him food. The young man said that on October 15, 2016, he went to Ali’s home and called out for her, but did not get an answer.
He stated that he assumed Ali was not at home, since the gate to her yard was locked. He added that two days later, on October 17, 2016, his mother instructed him to check on the elderly woman. He said that his mother told him that if he did not get an answer from Ali, he must jump the gate and go inside the house.
The teenager recounted, “I jumped the gate and walked to the eastern side and the place was smelly. I pushed the door on the lower flat and when I go inside, the place was ransacked. And when I go in front of her room door, she [Ali] was lying inside with her hands tied behind her back and her body was swollen. I ran out of the house, and I went home and told my mother what I saw.”
Meanwhile, Police Officers Joel Chisholm and Patrick Benjamin testified to visiting the crime scene where they saw the motionless body of the businesswoman, who was clad in a nightgown. They said that her hands and feet were tied and her head was partially decomposed. They recounted dusting the scene for fingerprints.
Another man, 28-year-old Davanand Rampersaud, was also charged with Ali’s murder. However, last year Rampersaud appeared before the High Court and pleaded not guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter.
As a consequence, he was sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after serving a minimum of 25 years. In sentencing him, Justice Sandil Kissoon condemned the killing, stating that given the prevalence of the offence, the court had to impose a sentence that would serve as a deterrent.
The 19-year-old murder accused and Rampersaud hailed from the same community as Ali.