…build camp in bush after slaughter
SOME of the alleged killers in the Bartica massacre had begun their boat journey to Bartica from the Kingston wharf in Georgetown; and they later built a camp in the dense Essequibo riverine forest following the slaughter of 12 people in the mining community of Bartica.
This is the account of one of the accused, Denis ‘Anaconda’ Williams, which was read in the High Court before Justice Roxane George and a 12-member jury on Tuesday, at the resumption of the trial which was adjourned since mid-November.
Superintendent of Police, Trevor Reid, who is attached to the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), read Williams’s statement, which he said he had written under the instruction of the accused. Reid said that, during 2008, he was the Sergeant-in-Charge of the Major Crimes Unit (MCU) stationed at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) at Eve Leary. He related that relative to a report of the alleged murder of Ron Osborne and 11 others on February 17, 2008, he assisted with the investigations.
Reid stated that, on November 8, 2011, he gave instructions to the then Corporal Singh, who was under his supervision; and about five minutes after, he told him ‘something’, after which he gave further instructions to Singh and the then Constable Sarabo.
Reid told the court that Singh and Sarabo accompanied Dennis Williams, called ‘Anaconda’, to his office, where Williams was offered a seat at his desk and he put the allegation to Williams that he and others, on February 17, 2008, murdered Ron Osborne and 11 others at Bartica.
At that point, the officer said, he cautioned Williams, who responded by saying: “Big man, I gon tell you wah happen. Let this man go outside.”
Reid added that the accused pointed to Singh, who exited his office; after which he (Reid) told Williams that he intended to write down what he has to say, and that he (Williams) could write the statement himself or elect anyone to do so for him. The senior officer said Williams was told that he can have a friend, a lawyer, or relative present, and Williams nominated Reid to write the statement for him, after which a caution statement form was prepared.
Reid told the court that he began writing the statement, and after each paragraph, he showed same to Williams, who looked at it as he was reading and said he understood what was written, after which he affixed his signature in the presence of Sarabo, who also signed as a witness.
The policeman added that after he had completed the caution statement, he told Williams that he had to attach a certificate (signature), and he asked Williams to write it. Reid read Williams read the statement and signed it in his presence and that of Sarabo.
Reid said that before, during and after he made the statement, neither he nor anyone in his presence used any violence, threats, or made any promises of any form of inducement to Williams. He said that if he saw the caution statement again, he could identify it by his handwriting, signature and the date.
Reid added that he gave evidence in the magistrate’s court, and the statement was lodged in his name at CID. The caution statement was however marked, tendered and admitted as evidence in the trial after an application was made by State Prosecutor Stacy Goodings.
Reading from the caution statement which was penned by him, Reid said: “Big Man, me and Chi-Chi left wid the boat from the back ah the wharf at Kingston, and we reach them an pon wan land ah the back so. Me nah know the place. About five or six ah them come in the boat with nuff big guns. Me nah know them man, is the first time I meet them man. Chi-Chi de driving the boat. We left the Saturday night and we had to stop in the river because some wata gone in the engine. Chi-Chi repair the engine and the next day we gone Bartica. Me and couple youth man stay in the boat, and them man gone pon the land with guns, and shortly after we hear shooting. The shooting last fuh about 20 minutes, and them man come back pon the boat with two big canisters.
Them youth man wah bin wid me stick up some man pon the stelling, and before dem go in the boat them shoot them man. Me bin right dey when them shoot them man. Me can’t say who shoot, because me nah know them man name. Chi-Chi then drive the boat and we gone on the river side, and (then) we abandon the boat and we gone in the bush wid the canister them and guns. Me nah had no gun. We then go in wan four-runner and the vehicle carry we to another area, whey we come out the vehicle and gone in the bush. One man who bin wid the vehicle carry we to wan spot and we build ah camp. Me spend the night, and the next morning me and Chi-Chi beat out and come to town.
Two days after, me goh back up dey and me meet Chi-Chi back ah the camp wid them man. Me nah see the canister them, but Chi-Chi gee me about three ounce raw gold. He nah get no money and me nah bin dey when the canister them open. Them nah tell me wha bin in the canister. Me collect me gold and the same day me beat out to town. The night me see Chi-Chi in town. The next day me carry the gold and sell it underneath the clock ah Big Market to a man. Me nah know the man, but he gee me two hundred thousand dollars foh the gold. Me buy some clothes wid some ah the money and spend out the rest pon food and other thing. That is all I know bout. Me nah know who plan this thing.
Me nah know about the plan; me bin ah go wid Chi-Chi foh collect something in the bush. Fineman and them man is nah me brethren, them ah Chi-Chi people. This is the truth, big man. Me nah kill no body. Me nah had no gun. Them man gee me the gold because me see wha happen. This ah the truth big man. Me vex about the whole itation.”
In cross-examining Reid, defence Counsel Saphier Husain asked Reid if he knew Williams before he saw him that day he wrote the caution statement, and Reid said it was the first time he had seen the accused.
Husain also asked Reid whether he shocked Williams to the chest and back, and Reid said he didn’t, nor did he kick or box Williams either.
Reid told the court that the caution statement was not taken under duress, but it was given freely; and he did not have a pre-prepared statement which he had fabricated.
On trial for murder allegedly committed during the Bartica Massacre are Mark Royden, called “Durant”; Dennis Williams, called “Anaconda”; and Roger Simon, called “Goat Man”. They are each indicted on 12 counts of murder committed on nine civilians and three policemen at Bartica on February 17, 2008.
The accused are facing 12 counts of murder, one count of terrorism, one count of unlawful wounding, and three counts of break and enter and larceny. However, two of the five accused — Michael Caesar and Clebert Reece — have since separately pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Reece was sentenced to 35 years in jail, while Caesar will return to the High Court for probation report and sentencing on December 16, 2016 before Justice Roxane George.
Royden is being represented by Attorney-at-law Roger Yearwood; Williams is being represented by Attorney-at-law Saphier Hussain, and Simon’s attorney is Peter Hugh. During the February 17, 2008 rampage, nine civilians and three cops were gunned down by a group of heavily armed men, who descended on Bartica at nightfall.
Those who lost their lives in this tragic incident were Barticians Edwin Gilkes, Dexter Adrian and Irving Ferreira; Bartica-stationed policemen Lance Corporal Zaheer Zakir and Constables Shane Fredericks and Ron Osborne; Deonarine Singh of Wakenaam; Ronald Gomes of Kuru Kururu; Ashraf Khan of Middlesex, Essequibo; Abdool Yasseen; Errol Thomas of Tuschen, East Bank Essequibo, and Baldeo Singh of Montrose, East Coast Demerara.
Rondell ‘Fineman’ Rawlins, according to the police, led the gang on the rampage in Bartica, as well as on the rampage that occurred at Lusignan on January 26, 2008. Rawlins was killed in a joint services’ operation on August 28, 2008. With his death and the arrest and prosecution of the five suspects, it appeared as though the police had closed their investigation.