Guyanese medical student reportedly knifed Cubans during row over watch

The Guyanese medical student who knifed a Cuban man to death last Friday night before slitting a woman’s throat had “tripped out” during an argument over the price of a watch, according to well placed sources.

Stabroek News was reliably informed that Shurlon Austin of Hamilton Road, Pattensen, South Sophia went to a shop in Havana to buy a watch. While there he reportedly got into an argument with the owner of the store which saw the man’s wife intervening.

A source said Austin stabbed the man at least 11 times before turning his knife on the woman. The woman sustained a wound to the throat and other parts of the body and is receiving treatment at a Havana hospital.

Up to press time last evening, Austin, who left Guyana in 2006 at age 24, was still in a Havana jail awaiting the completion of a police investigation.

Public Service Minister Jennifer Westford told Stabroek News last night that there was no new information on what had transpired. She said the police are still investigating and that Austin remains in police custody. She said representatives of the Guyana embassy in Cuba are keeping her updated.

Westford had said on last Saturday that according to the information released the student was in police custody assisting with investigations into a homicide.

Police Commissioner (ag) Leroy Brumell has since said that the local police are prepared to assist the Cuban authorities in a recent incident in which a Guyanese student allegedly killed a national of that country after a soured business deal.

Stabroek News has since learnt that all Guyanese students have been advised to stay close together. Guyanese living in Cuba have expressed shock at the incident.

Stabroek News was told that students endure deplorable conditions and other hardship as a result of which some become mentally affected.

Austin was scheduled to return to Guyana in July to complete his studies. It is suspected that his years away from his relatives may have affected him.  This newspaper was told that since he left Guyana in 2006 he had never returned.

Meanwhile, a parent who has a child studying in Cuba told Stabroek News that students often succumb to the pressure of poor conditions and being away from relatives for so many years. It was explained that the Guyana government only provides airfare to travel to Cuba when the scholarship starts and to return to Guyana when it has ended. If the student wants to return home in between the scholarship period, she explained, parents have to foot the airfare expenses.

The parent stressed that if students do not have support from parents it affects them mentally. She also said that scholarship students face many problems including poor living conditions. She said that many students have moved out of the living quarters provided to escape conditions such as poor quality food and would rent apartments at the expense of their relatives.

A woman who identified herself as Austin’s mother declined to speak with this newspaper saying that she was not in Cuba and that the truth will be twisted.

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