BEFORE Justice Navindra Singh yesterday, defence lawyers in the Neesa Gopaul murder trial addressed the 12-member jury, with Defence Counsel Mr. Lyndon Amsterdam, one of Barry Small’s attorneys, commenting on how poorly crime is investigated in Guyana while briefing the jury on aspects of his client’s case.Neesa Gopaul’s mother Bibi Shareema Gopaul, also known as ‘Naree’, and her step-father, Jarvis ‘Barry’ Small, are on trial at the Demerara Assizes for the gruesome murder of the 16-year-old, which allegedly took place at sometime between September 24 and October 2, 2010.
Mr. Amsterdam said he was unsure where the actual truth lies, since he was left with more questions than answers. He also questioned the credibility of Pathologist Dr. Nehaul Singh’s evidence.
He noted that no one tried to find out from the school which the teen was attending if her school bags, books or other clothes were missing.
He added that no one tried to find out who had been the teen’s best friend, if she used a computer, and what information was in it.
He emphasised that there was a lack of evidence in the investigation, and said the police were so desperate in the matter that they would do whatever it takes to charge the accused in the matter.
He asked who really took the dumb bells to the station, what colour the dumbbells had, and noted that the narration which the star witness and Police Officer Paul had given to the court had conflicted.
He said the reason why the defence for the accused Small did not asked either De Nobrega or Griffith any questions is because the number one accused had not been present at the East La Penitence lock-ups.
He said, however, what was told to the court by De Nobrega could only be admissible to the number two accused, and not to the co-accused.
Amsterdam further questioned how Bibi Gopaul could have cleaned the car thoroughly, notwithstanding blood from Neesa’s body, and also how she had managed to get rid of the scent of blood.
In her evidence, De Nobrega had stated that Neesa had been strangled with a rope; however, Amsterdam said the doctor did not find any mark of strangulation.
Attorney-at law Mr George Thomas, representing Bibi Shareema Gopaul, brought to the attention of the mixed panel jury the evidence given to the court by “star witness” Simone De Nobrega.
He emphasised on the inconsistency of this witness’s evidence, pointed to her criminal past, and declared there was difference in the evidence given by Police officer Caesar and that given by De Nobrega.
He asked how De Nobrega could recall clearly what had been told to her by number two accused Bibi Shareema Gopaul, as opposed to the money relating to her false pretense charges.
Counsel said Gopaul’s husband died during the month of September, 2009, and De Nobrega claimed that the number two accused and Barry Small had struck a relationship during the month of March, 2010.
Thomas questioned when the two people had come together to poison Javid (Gopaul’s husband), as mentioned by De Nobrega.
Another point counsel raised was that his client’s husband had been buried in a Muslim cemetery under lock and key. He questioned who would have better access to the cemetery than the own blood and flesh of the number two accused.
He asked why would Gopaul ask a stranger to access her late husband’s grave, rather than her own father — this opposed to what was mentioned by De Nobrega in her evidence when she told the court that Gopaul had told her she had needed someone to dig up the grave.
He asked after the number two accused and her former cellmate De Nobrega had been separated on October 10, 2010, how could they have had conversation between October 15 and 20, 2010.
He called attention to De Nobrega’s claim that she had been threatened and asked why the witness did not complain to Chapman.
Counsel added that Police Officer Greaves had checked the vehicle and had found nothing. He asked why the police did not go to the wash bay and find out what condition the car was in.
He declared that the story De Nobrega had given to the court had been riddled with inconsistency, as had been the doctor’s evidence.
Counsel said the prosecution had failed to prove where and how the teen had died, and also that Gopaul had been present and had contributed to the death of her daughter.
On Monday, March 2 last, Justice Singh had overruled no-case submissions made by defence attorneys-at-law Mr. Glenn Hanoman and Mr. George Thomas, declaring that sufficient evidence had been tendered to cause the accused to each lead a defence.
The case is being presented by State Prosecutors Diana Kaulesar, Mercedes Thompson and Stacy Gooding, who are contending that, on October 2, 2010, the headless remains of a female had been discovered at a location along the Soesdkye-Linden Highway tucked inside a suitcase that had been partially submerged in a creek. A rope had been wrapped around the suitcase, and dumbbells had been attached at one end, apparently in an effort to keep the body under water.
In addition to the body, a passport bearing the name Neesa Lalita Gopaul had also been found. The teenager was reported missing just days before the discovery had been made.
Subsequent to the gruesome discovery, Bibi Gopaul and her ex-paramour, Jarvis Barry Small, were arrested and charged for the murder.
Jarvis “Barry” Small is being represented by attorneys-at-law Glen Hanoman, Bernard Dos Santos SC, Lyndon Amsterdam and Zanna Frank; while Bibi Gopaul is being represented by Attorney-at-Law Mr George Thomas.
(By Geeta Rampersaud)
The prosecution will be addressing the jury today.