–says he used sponge and a cigarette lighter
THE Guyana Police Force (GPF), on Sunday, disclosed that it has an alleged video confession from a 26-year-old Lodge resident, who claims he is behind Saturday’s devastating fire at the Brickdam Police Station.
The police, in a press release, identified the alleged arsonist as Clarence Greene of Lot 2292 Princess Street, Lodge, who had been arrested for armed robbery and was being held in the station’s lockups.
According to the police, the man claimed that he “grew frustrated” after being detained for several hours and so he decided to set fire to the building.
During the midday hours of Saturday, fire ripped through the station which served as the headquarters for the force’s Regional Police Division 4 ‘A’ and also housed the office of the regional commander.
The devastating fire, which reportedly started in the eastern section of the compound at about 11:06 hrs, destroyed more than 80 per cent of the station, including the Property Room, Inquires Office, Traffic Department and Officers’ Mess Hall.
Guns and ammunition were safely removed from the buildings before the fire could spread. Standing are the police barracks at the western section of the compound, the “clay brick” Impact Base building, and the lockups.
Greene was one of 16 persons in custody at the time of the fire, and they, along with the ranks who were on duty, were able to safely exit the compound. There were no reports of serious injury or loss of life. The prisoners were later transferred to the Sparendaam Police Station.
The force, in its statement on Sunday, disclosed that Greene was arrested early Saturday morning and placed in the lockups for an alleged robbery under arms. The statement alleged that he told investigators during his alleged confession that his motive for starting the fire was because he became “frustrated” after being detained for several hours.
The GPF, in sparing no effort to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the fire, had questioned several of the persons who were in the Brickdam lockups at the time of the fire and two of them provided investigators with a lead.
The release said the two prisoners claimed that after the fire was seen and they were taken out of the cells and escorted to the Sparendaam Police Station, they were placed in a cell with Greene.
“The duo said Greene told them that he took a piece of sponge, wrapped it up on a piece of wire which he lit, and pushed it through a ventilation hole in the cell over to a part that had some documents and it caught afire,” the release added.
Following this revelation, Greene was then video interviewed/questioned by detectives during which he “confessed” and told investigators that he tore off a piece of sponge from a mattress in the cell that he was in, hooked it on a piece of wire, and lit same with a cigarette lighter which he then pushed through a ventilation hole in the cell at Brickdam.
Commissioner of Police (ag), Nigel Hoppie, had said on Saturday that the tragedy will not slow down the operations of the GPF. “That will not deter us; we have already started immediately to put systems in place to ensure that we are keeping with our mandate of service and protection to the citizens,” he had said, adding:
“We lost several buildings; we lost also vehicles. Some are from matters under investigation, while others were vehicles that were destroyed. Some, in a significant way, belong to the GPF.”
Commissioner Hoppie further explained that because most ranks were conducting patrol duties at the time of the fire, none of the “operable vehicles” were damaged.
The Brickdam Police Station housed 398 ranks belonging to the Commander’s Office, Traffic, Impact Base, and CID.
Commissioner Hoppie committed to members of the public that there should be “no fear” about the force’s ability to react to any public issue that requires the intervention of ranks from the Brickdam Police Station.
“We all know police operations depend on our records. As it is, we have to do an inventory into what records we would have lost to the fire. But operationally, we will be able to continue our day-to-day operations in the streets of Georgetown, because our ranks were on the road on patrol when the incident occurred. All of our operational vehicles were saved, so, we don’t have an issue in providing that service for the community,” said the Police Commissioner.