Criminal charges likely for two ranks in Colwyn Harding matter

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– other cops to face disciplinary action for breaching SOPs

THE Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is not yet in receipt of the file in the Colwyn Harding matter in which several police officers are being investigated on allegations of sodomizing and assaulting the 23-year-old man while he was in their custody at the Timehri Police Station.

Yesterday the Guyana Chronicle was able to confirm that the file is still with the Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA), Justice Cecil Kennard, a retired Chancellor of the Judiciary, and that file is likely to be sent to the DPP Shalimar Ali-Hack on Monday, providing the investigating ranks make available some additional information available to the PCA chairman which he has requested and was promised would be available today.
However, Justice Kennard stated that based on the information available to him so far, it is possible that at least two of the ranks from the Timehri Police Station could face criminal charges of assault, while other ranks are likely to be slapped with disciplinary action for breaching the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
While not getting into many details with respect to the investigation and the contents of the file, the PCA chairman told this newspaper during a telephone interview yesterday that he has requested two other statements to facilitate the closing of his part of the investigation.
Open Mind
He said further that he has an open mind to the investigation and when those two additional statements are presented to him and he peruses them, he will then be able to determine whether criminal charges should be brought or disciplinary action taken.
Meanwhile, Crime Chief Seelall Persaud did say two weeks ago at a press conference that based on the initial reports with respect to the Colwyn Harding case there were a number of procedures which were not followed and he vowed that they all will be investigated.
Last year Harding was abused while in police custody and the matter came to light early this year, sparking much public outrage.
In light of the seriousness of the alleged offences and widespread public interest in the matter, the Police Commissioner held a press conference and made it clear that the case was being thoroughly investigated and those guilty of any wrong doing will face the full brunt of the law.
The Police Commissioner has since confirmed that eight members of the Guyana Police Force (GPF), besides Constable 19175 Devin Mahendra Singh, have been removed from the Timehri Police Station, East Bank of Demerara.
Singh was the first rank to be removed from the station and placed under close arrest following the allegation of sexual assault committed on Harding in November last year.
Meanwhile, three other police officers have been placed under close arrest and a probe launched after a 16-year-old boy alleged that he was sodomized by the police while in custody at the Police Outpost in the vicinity of Stabroek Market in Georgetown.

(By Leroy Smith)