Five persons were yesterday charged after they allegedly offered inducements to the young girls at the centre of the child molestation case against Chandra Narine Sharma, including his son-in-law and three employees.
Gizmos and Gadgets owner Ravi Mangar and his security guard as well as three CNS Channel 6 workers were arraigned on charges of attempting to obstruct the course of justice and acting Chief Magistrate Melissa Robertson placed each of them on $100,000 bail when they appeared at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court.
Mangar, 29, of Lot 33 Bel Air Springs, was charged with procuring his security guard to obstruct the course of justice by influencing him to bribe the girls in the matter.
The guard, Mark Reid, 29, of Lot 12 Wellington Street, was charged with attempting to obstruct the course of justice. Meanwhile, CNS Channel 6 Administrator Tyrone Ali, 34, of Lot 714 Cummings Lodge; Sharma’s driver, Doonauth Sharma, 43, of Lot 1075 Golden Grove Housing Scheme; and Raymattie Ramsaywack, 42, of Lot 63 Houston Housing Scheme, were also charged with attempting to obstruct the course of justice but none of them was required to enter a plea to the indictable charge.
On Tuesday, Sharma was charged with having carnal knowledge of a child who was seven years old.
The charge stemmed from allegations made by the now 13-year-old complainant, who accused Sharma of molesting her. Sharma was not required to plead to the indictable charge.
‘Love for his father-in-law’
It was alleged yesterday that on April 17, Mangar procured Reid to attempt to obstruct the course of justice by bribing the girl. Reid, it was alleged, wilfully attempted to obstruct the course of justice by offering $2M to all the girls in the matter, as well as a house and land so that they would not give evidence against Sharma in relation to sexual offences he allegedly committed on them.
The pair’s lawyer, Mark Waldron, stated that the only thing Mangar was guilty of was the love that he had for his father-in-law and his wife.
He stated that he saw an interview on the television of a woman who said she was the girls’ guardian and that she was offered up to $10M to influence the girls to finish the matter. He said his clients are all before the court because of “blatant and malicious gossip.” He noted that the police said that the girls were in protective custody since April 15, which showed that Reid could not have possibly contacted them to bribe them as stated in the charge.
He claimed that the intention in theses cases was not only to destroy Sharma’s character but also those of his family members. He requested that his clients be released on their own recognisance.
However, Prosecutor Stephen Telford said it was clear that both Mangar and Reid had tampered with the girls, who are all witnesses in the case. He pointed out that even prisoners have contact with the outside world and the same was the case with the girls while in protective custody. Telford requested that bail be denied for the two men, on the grounds of the seriousness of the offence. He added that if released, Mangar and Reid may tamper with the witnesses and may also flee the jurisdiction. Telford noted that even when the passports of indicted persons are lodged in the custody of the police, they still find ways to flee the country.
The magistrate granted the men bail and the case is to be called next on May 13, at Court 10.
Meanwhile, Doodnauth Sharma and Ramsaywack were alleged to have removed the girls from their residence to a house at Lot 123 Golden Grove Housing Scheme, East Coast Demerara, on April 15. It was alleged that they attempted to prevent the police from contacting the girls for the purpose of an investigation of the allegations of sexual offences committed on the 13-year-old girl by Sharma. They were charged jointly.
Vic Puran, who represented them, stated that Ramsaywack is a receptionist at Freezing Point, which is a company associated with Sharma. Puran argued that all the allegations being levelled against different persons associated with Sharma were never used as grounds for Sharma’s bail to be refused. The lawyer went on to say “assuming that they did commit the offence, the day–April 15–they are alleged to have committed the offence precedes the day when the girls became witnesses in Sharma’s matter.” As a result, he said one cannot tamper or obstruct a case when there was not a case at the time.
Prosecutor Telford stated that the two accused are employed by Sharma and that they committed the offences while Sharma was in custody. The magistrate granted bail and transferred the case to Court Six for May 21.
Ali, a journalist, is alleged to have wilfully attempted to obstruct the course of justice by making inquiries and recordings of those inquires from a sister of the 13-year-old girl on April 18, in the relation to the whereabouts of her and her other sisters, who are all witnesses.
Ali’s lawyer, Nigel Hughes, stated that “it appears that someone has a very personal agenda with Sharma,” while decrying what he deemed the ridiculousness of the charge. He said that what his client did, as journalist, is being done all over the media. He said that asking where the teen and her sisters were, did not constitute an offence of obstructing the course of justice. He noted that the Director of Public Prosecutions DPP Shalimar Ali-Hack had even told the media that the girls were in protective custody, so it was clear that there is no secrecy as to where they were.
Hughes further stated that the case impaired and damaged Ali’s reputation, since he was never the subject of a police investigation. He added that Ali is a law-abiding citizen and an outstanding journalist, and he dubbed the charge an abuse of power and a frontal assault on the freedom of speech. “An interview cannot be an act of obstructing a police investigation,” Hughes stated, noting that if the persons that were interviewed were wanted by the police then that would have been different.
However, Telford stated that at the time Sharma was in the custody, Ali went to the 13-year-old’s sister to gather information from her. “The accused tampered with the witness in Sharma’s matter,” the prosecutor claimed and he requested that bail be refused for Ali on the grounds that if released he may interfere with other witnesses.
Hughes then interjected, stating that he wanted the prosecutor to show him a law that said that you cannot interview a witness in a matter since it’s an offence.
After bail was granted, the magistrate transferred the case to Court 10 for continuation on May 13.