Road deaths: 177, Homicides: 94

Unable to calm an unstable crime situation where murder topped the one hundred mark for the past three years, police have reported that 83 more people have died so far this year in road accidents than at the hands of criminals.

Commissioner of Police, Henry Greene on Wednesday disclosed that so far this year there have been 177 deaths on the roadways representing a 52% increase in road fatalities. Of that figure there have been 56 road deaths in ‘A’ Division, which takes in Georgetown and the East Bank of Demerara, 39 in ‘B’ division – both West and East Berbice, 27 in ‘C’ division – East Coast Demerara, 21 in ‘D’ West Demerara, 26 in E&F divisions – the interior locations and eight in ‘G’ division- Essequibo. In an 18-day period 24 persons died on the roadways. Included in that number are the ten persons who perished when the minibus in which they were travelling slammed into a parked lumber truck two weeks ago in Linden. A few days later a car ran off the Liliendaal Public Road, killing six persons including a security guard who was in a watch hut. Authorities have since signalled their intention to get tough with enforcing the traffic laws, threatening that there will be stiffer fines and zero-tolerance on a host of transgressions including, overloading and boom-boom boxes among other things. “We intend to take drastic measures against persons found in breach of these offences and to ensure they are properly dealt with and placed before the court.”

Greene was hosting a press conference on Wednesday afternoon when around nine gunmen transported by a canter truck ambushed a cambio dealer and robbed him of a quantity of US and local currency. The attack on the businessman was an indication that while the attention at the moment is on enforcing traffic regulations the criminals are still at work.

Crime Chief (ag), Seelall Persaud said that the Police Force had recorded 94 homicides up to that point, several being gun-related and others domestic. Among the murders are a number of execution-style killings most of them going unsolved so far. Last year the police recorded over 130 murders – 43 being execution-style murders and 47 domestic-related.

The police lat year complained that the most prevalent crime was armed robbery involving the use of firearms. They continue to lament the upsurge in this type of crime, which is mainly due to the fact that unlicensed firearms are commonplace in the streets. There were over 990 reports of robbery under arms last year and 808 occasions on which firearms were used compared to 836 reports for the same period in 2005 when firearms were used on 649 occasions.

Meanwhile, among the outstanding murders so far this year is the gunning down of 18-year-old Dave Hescott back in April. He was discovered amidst metal behind the furnace in Le Repentir cemetery. The young man had a gunshot wound and a stab wound to the back of his head and was lying face down when he was found. Dave was the fourth brother of the Hescott family to be killed by gunfire. He had only been released from police custody a few days before along with his brother Ryan and another man after being implicated in a $1.8 million robbery under arms. The following week the body of Sherman Edwards was discovered in Hadfield Street, D’Urban Backlands with his throat slashed and his hands tied behind his back. The man’s body was found hidden in the thick grass beside a trench by someone who was walking along the secluded road.

The style of his killing was similar to those over the last few years when men were tortured and murdered execution-style. A number of these killings have been linked to death squads and drug feuds. Edwards was clad in white underpants, both of his hands were tied behind his back, his throat was slit and there were several other marks of violence on his body. His head was also shaven. Police have made no arrests in these two execution-style killings though they warned in a statement that the force was concerned about the executions and those involved when caught would face the full force of the law. Following those two killings there were several others.

Twenty-seven-year-old Navin Serrao was among the victims. He was shot and killed while driving along Thomas Lands. Police had said that they suspected that a drug deal might have been partly responsible for his brutal killing, but investigators are yet to make any arrests. Security guard Daniel La Rose followed shortly after. He was at his workplace, Saj Rice Group Inc in Bel Air when intruders beat him to death.

A retired police officer of Shell Road, Kitty, La Rose was apparently beaten to death during a robbery at the rice company where he had started working only three weeks before he was killed. When he was found, his shirt was pulled up exposing his chest and there was blood oozing from wounds on his head, indicating that he had been severely beaten. The abduction and subsequent murder of Khemdat Sukhul is also among the unsolved cases. Sukhul who was taken from his Providence business place by a group of men was found clinging to life in Unity Village, Mahaica with numerous chops about his upper body about a week later. He died shortly after. Relatives had said that a $24M ransom demand was made.

Dirk Simon, a taxi driver who resided at Tuschen, East Bank Essequibo was murdered on the West Coast Berbice back in June. Up to now no one has been arrested for his killing. Reports were that Simon was at his taxi base when a call came in requesting that he make a pick-up. Simon was later found dead. The murder of Ramrattan Singh, a rice farmer of Hyde Park, Mahaicony is also among the pile of unsolved cases. He had just withdrawn around $500,000 from a bank on Water Street when two bandits riding on a motorcycle stuck him up. He resisted the robbers who shot him in his leg and robbed him of the money.

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