Vigilantes beat man to death in Sophia

A mob early yesterday morning battered and chopped an alleged thief to death in Sophia, before tying his lifeless body to a lamp post and covering it with pieces of wood with the apparent intention of burning it.

Dead is 40-year-old Nigel Lowe also known as Nigel Fordyce of Block ‘A’, Joe Singh Entrance, Sophia.

Police in a press release said that investigations are being conducted into the circumstances surrounding the death of the man “whose nude body was found tied to a utility pole at ‘B’ Field, Sophia, at about 06:00 hours”.

The body according to the release bore marks of violence “that appear to be chop wounds”. The body is at the Lyken’s Funeral Home awaiting a post-mortem examination.

Crime Chief Seelall Persaud, when contacted late yesterday afternoon, said he did not have “all the details about the matter” but knew police officers were still in the area conducting their investigations. He said too that as far as he was aware no arrests had been made.

When Stabroek News arrived at the scene, undertakers were wrapping the man’s body to take it away. There was a large crowd gathered and based on the comments, many of those gathered saw nothing wrong with the manner in which the man was killed. One passing motorist was even heard commenting, “Sophia people gotta represent and protect each other”.

Stabroek News was told that the man was left tied to the lantern post from around 2 am, but no one who was on the scene when this newspaper arrived admitted to knowing how he died, how he came to be there or who was involved.

Rope was used to tie his hands together and this was then tied onto the lower portion of the post. He was left in a sitting position and pieces of wood were then piled onto his mid-section.

Persons told Stabroek News that they knew the man since he picked and sold coconuts and did odd jobs in the area. They said too that he was a known thief who had been beaten twice before stealing.

According to reports, several residents in `A’ Field and `B’ Field have had their homes broken into during the last few months. It would appear that they decided to be on the lookout for whoever was committing the acts.

One resident of ‘A’ Field, Sophia recalled that sometime before 1 am he was awakened by shouts of “thief, thief!”. He said that when he looked out he saw people on the street and on venturing outside was later alerted to a shadow moving in an outdoor toilet nearby.

The man said the group comprising about 20 men, descended into that area and found the naked Lowe hiding in the outhouse. Based on what Stabroek News was told the beating of the man started then as residents had armed themselves with pieces of wood and cutlasses.

According to the resident, at one point while Lowe was being “broadsided with a cutlass” he attacked that person.

Asked why the mob was after the man, the resident said that he and two men, who were allegedly armed, were caught breaking into a nearby house. However, no one this newspaper spoke with knew which house the men were attempting to break into.

The two alleged accomplices reportedly managed to escape but Lowe thought that his chances would have been better if he hid.

The resident said that after the man was subdued he was carried away by the residents. It is unclear why the man’s body was fetched all the way to the next field and why the residents took such drastic action especially when there is a police outpost about a ten-minute drive away.

Shocked

Lowe’s mother Jenny only learnt of his death yesterday afternoon shortly after she returned from hospital where she had gone to seek medical attention for hypertension and diabetes. The woman said Lowe, the second of her four children, was no thief. The woman said she was leaving the perpetrators “in the hands of God” as someday everything will come to light.

She recalled that because of his “smoking” Lowe developed mental problems. She said he did not live with her but had “something like a house” at the back of her yard which he would occasionally occupy.

Jenny said she last saw Lowe last week Wednesday and on that occasion he was in “a terrible mood”. She said he was quarrelling and making a lot of noise. The woman was adamant that her son did not have “a criminal mind”. She disputed allegations that he broke into people’s houses. “He would climb coconut tree, not break into people’s house,” she stated.

Meanwhile, persons who gathered to offer the mother comfort said police found the dead man’s pants in the outhouse, where residents claimed he had been hiding. They opined that the man had gone there to use the outhouse and not to steal.

Like Jenny, neighbours said the incident had shocked them and they described the actions of the persons who beat Lowe to death as cruel.

Irene Shepherd who had known Lowe for many years said she was upset about the manner in which he died. “Ah vex bad, bad. They shoulda call the police. Not kill he…He is a junkie not a thief,” the visibly angry woman said.

Shepherd recalled that she received a telephone call that he had been killed and she ran to the scene. The woman said she was shocked at the sight that greeted her. She questioned why no one had pointed out the houses that Lowe broke into.

Residents recalled last seeing Lowe around 8 pm on Tuesday.

Police investigations are continuing.

Over the years there have been several vigilante-style killings. The last occurred at Beterverwagting, East Coast Demerara in January.

It had been reported that on January 16, Jermaine Hamilton, 37, allegedly attacked a police officer who was on duty in the community with a cutlass.

Residents reportedly went to the aid of the policeman during which the man received injuries. However, when Hamilton was taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital, he was pronounced dead on arrival. He had been badly beaten.

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