Guyanese trio found guilty in Canada of ‘backtrack’ charge

Three Guyanese who were found guilty in Canada on Friday of conspiracy to induce people to enter the United States illegally plan to move for an entrapment hearing.

The Telegraph-Journal reported that Judge William McCarroll ruled in St. Stephen provincial court against Mohamed Habin Yusef,

Savita Singh-Murray

of Scarborough, Ont., his sister-in-law Savita Singh-Murray and Ravindra Hariprasad.

The trio is Guyanese. McCarroll also ruled that the Crown did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a fourth accused, retired pharmacist Vaughn McCluskey, took part in the scheme.

As soon as McCarroll delivered the verdict, Randall Wilson, lawyer for Singh-Murray, from near St. Stephen, moved for an entrapment hearing, the report said. Patrick Hurley, defence lawyer for Yusef and John King, defending Hariprasad, of Scarborough, Ont., made similar motions on behalf of their clients, it said.

The judge turned down the motion by federal crown prosecutor Monica McQueen to take the three convicted persons into immediate custody.

McCarroll accepted the argument by the defence counsel that their clients showed up on time for all court appearances and abided by the terms of their release. They each put up $10,000 cash bail. Singh-Murray and Yusef signed over their own homes, and Hariprasad his father’s home, as sureties, their lawyers said.

Singh-Murray has a husband, children, home and job in Charlotte County, Wilson said. With their knowledge of immigration, the three convicted people posed a flight risk, McQueen argued, according to the Telegraph-Journal.

If the court rules that the RCMP entrapped them, nobody could give them back the days in jail, McCarroll ruled.

He scheduled Dec. 13 and 14 for the entrapment hearing. He released the three defendants on the same bail conditions as they have lived under since May 2009. McCarroll said he delivered his conspiracy verdict orally on Friday to save the defendants, “the type of agony (caused by) waiting around for a court to make a decision. My impression is they prefer to get it over with,” he said, according to the report.

The RCMP arrested McCluskey, then 71, Singh-Murray, then 43, Yusef, then 53, and Hariprasad, then 36, on May 13, 2009. The RCMP charged them with conspiring to induce or encourage people to enter the United States illegally between May 5, 2007 and May 11, 2009. The RCMP laid the charge under a section of the Criminal Code making it illegal to use Canada to break the laws of another country. The court could sentence them to up to 10 years in prison.

Evidence at the trial indicated that a young woman from Guyana stayed at McCluskey’s apartment in June 2008, the Telegraph-Journal reported. On December  4, 2008 Yusef and Hariprasad delivered Janet and Ijaz Nabi, a married couple from Guyana, to two undercover RCMP officers acting as truck drivers in the Toronto area.

The Ontario Provincial Police stopped them in a set up traffic check, the report said.

This investigation began after Lloyd Laking of McAdam, told the RCMP in October 2007 that Singh-Murray offered money to smuggle people from Guyana into the United States.

The RCMP agreed to pay him CDN$75,000 as a civilian agent, the Telegraph-Journal reported.

There was a conspiracy and probably all four defendants took part in it, McCarroll ruled. McCluskey “was probably a conspirator,” McCarroll said, but he could not say this beyond a reasonable doubt. “It is my impression that he was simply a dupe in all of this,” the judge said, referring to Laking’s plan “to get rich” and, on Singh-Murray’s part, “in furtherance of her human smuggling scheme.”

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