Police Corporal Sherwin Smith yesterday appeared in the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court charged with the murder of Counsellor Ralph Turpin and was later remanded to prison until October 10 by Magistrate Sueann Lovell.
The uneasy-looking 28-year-old policeman of Lot 292 `B’ Field Sophia, had earlier appeared before Acting Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry, who transferred the matter to Magistrate Lovell for report and fixture.
Magistrate Lovell in reading the particulars of the indictable charge said that it is alleged that on September 15 Corporal Smith murdered Turpin. The incident occurred at a Stabroek Market food stand around 3.30 that morning.
He was not required to plead to the charge and was represented by Attorney-at-law George Thomas and Senior Counsel Bernard De Santos who requested a speedy preliminary inquiry, taking into consideration that he is a serving member of the Guyana Police Force. The lawyers also told the court that death threats had been made against their client and prejudicial statements had been carried in some news media regarding the identification of the accused.
The attorneys argued further that in these circumstances and owing to the publicity the case has attracted there is a great chance that the minds of potential jurors will be tainted and so result in great prejudice to the fair trial of the accused.
Police had said in a statement that Turpin of Lot 25 Agriculture Road, Triumph, East Coast Demerara, was shot in the head at Cornhill Street, Stabroek where he had gone to buy food. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the Georgetown Hospital. A post-mortem examination later revealed he sustained a single gunshot wound to the head.
According to police, a senior police officer and his wife went to purchase food at the Stabroek Market and there was an altercation involving females near the food stall. It is alleged that during the altercation, a man chucked one of the females and the deceased went to make peace, during which he was shot in the head by the man who also placed a gun to the head of one of the females.
This newspaper later learnt that the corporal was closely associated with the senior officer. They had apparently just left a party that was held at a popular city night club.
Turpin, 54, was the co-founder of the Infinity Rehabilitation Centre, which is a halfway house for substance abusers. He opened the doors to the centre, which is located at his home, last November.
The police constable surrendered at the Leonora Police Station last Friday. Yesterday, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) after reviewing a file on the matter recommended that the rank be charged with the capital offence.
This newspaper had been told that over the weekend, the corporal refused to attend an identification parade but was positively identified by several persons who witnessed the incident.