Execution of clothing vendor still a mystery three years on

Beyond the fact that some eight kilogrammes of cocaine were found concealed in the fuel tank of Raphael Piggott’s car, police were never able to develop any leads into the November 8, 2008 execution of the clothing vendor.

Did he know the drugs were there? Where were they being taken? Who did they belong to? are just a few of the questions that remain unanswered nearly three years after he was gunned down in Cummings Lodge, East Coast Demerara.

Police have often not linked execution-style killings to drug-related activity but this was the first time in recent years that there was physical evidence, leaving little room for dispute.

Raphael Piggott

Crime Chief Seelall Persaud said recently that since the incident and the subsequent discovery of the cocaine and a large quantity of foreign currency, there has been no new information or development in the investigation.

Piggott’s then pregnant reputed wife Evanese King and a friend Vincent Da Costa – who were in the vehicle at the time – had been arrested and released. No one else was ever detained nor was any suspect identified.

When asked if the police knew who the drugs belonged to, Persaud said, “the drugs were found in the tank of the car that he was in.” Days after the murder, Henry Greene, who at the time was the acting police commissioner, had said that Piggott was never under the police radar for drug trafficking. From all appearances he was unknown to the police.

Stabroek News was unable to make contact with Piggott’s relatives who from the inception had denied that the man who also sold spare parts to make a living was into that kind of business (drugs). They had also said that he worked his car as a taxi and as such “anybody could put thing in the car.”

A source close to the investigation said that there is no way to dispute that the killing was not drug related. He said what was more baffling was that the killing seemed to have had more of a personal touch as the man was just shot and the killer and his accomplice fled. The source said that no attempts were made to grab the drugs or the money that was in the car. This probably meant that the perpetrators were instructed to kill Piggott and leave, or that they could not figure out where the drugs and money were hidden.

Another theory was that the perpetrators were hoping the police would have missed the drugs and they would have gone later and retrieved them.

The source said too that it would be hard to understand how Piggott would not be aware that drugs were concealed in his car. According to the source, what is baffling too is that it was claimed that Piggott went to Suriname to do Christmas shopping, but came back to Guyana with US$14,041, €1,100 and eight kilogrammes of cocaine.

According to the source, even removing the cocaine from the equation, “it’s just hard to imagine what they were doing with that kind of money and where it came from.”

It was not clear if there was evidence of Christmas shopping in the car when police turned up to investigate the shooting.

Persons in the Guyhoc Park area where Piggott lived told this newspaper recently that it was hard to picture the dead man in drug related activity as he appeared to be a quiet person who was not very popular in the area. They said that at the time of his death, he lived with his girlfriend and a brother in the bottom flat of a house. According to one resident, Piggott was the one who paid the rent.

This newspaper was told that shortly after the killing the girlfriend and the brother moved out of the area.

Based on information gathered by this newspaper, two cars were involved in the 5.15 pm incident.

King had told Stabroek News that she didn’t see the shooter, just a small handgun in a hand that fired two bullets into her husband’s back. She explained that they had returned from Suriname, where they had gone to do some Christmas shopping and her husband was dropping off his friend (Da Costa), who had accompanied them, at his Sixth Street, Cummings Lodge home when tragedy struck. She was sitting in the front seat while the friend was in the back seat.

The woman recounted that they had reached the lot where the friend was to be dropped off but he had not exited as yet as her husband wanted to turn the car around. She said she knew something was wrong when Piggott reversed the car in a rash manner and when he turned the car around she saw him look through the window.

It was at that point she noticed the gun. Before she could react, the man fired two shots in Piggott’s direction. The injured man still had his foot on the accelerator and as a result he was in no position to control the vehicle which bolted forward at a speed. The car eventually came to halt in the yard of the Trooper Taxi Service in Sixth Street after ramming the fence. The barely alive, Piggott was rushed to a city hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

King had said after her husband was shot and the car crashed she never saw his friend again until she went to the police station to give a statement. It was then that they both were detained.

But the friend had explained that after the car stopped he jumped out and ran to safety as he did not know if the gunman and his accomplices were still in the area.

It is still unclear if any car was trailing Piggott, but from all indications it was not lying in wait for the man, residents in the area had said.

As the three year anniversary approaches, the question that still lingers is: will this case ever be solved?

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