In a case that had shocked and riveted the country, three former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) coastguards charged with murdering Bartica gold dealer Dweive Kant Ramdass were found guilty and sentenced to death yesterday at the High Court sitting at Suddie.
Sherwyn Hart, Deon Greenidge and Devon Gordon were found guilty of murder in unanimous verdicts by a jury and they were sentenced to death by Justice Franklyn Holder.
The jury returned with the verdicts half an hour after the evidence of the case was handed over to them for deliberation by Justice Holder.
Senior State Counsel Judith Gildharie-Mursalin presented the state’s case, while attorney Latchmie Rahamat represented the three accused. According to the state’s case Hart, Greenidge and Gordon killed Ramdass between August 20 and August 22, 2009, at Caiman Hole, East Bank Essequibo after they robbed him of $17 million.
After the verdicts were told to the court by the jury foreman, Justice Holder asked the accused if they had anything to say before he imposed penalty on them. Hart said that he was innocent, while Gordon stated that he had nothing to say. Greenidge, on the other hand, said that he was charged with something he knew nothing about and it was unfair for him to be found guilty for something he did not do and had no knowledge of.
During the trial, 16 witnesses were presented by Gildharie-Mursalin, while Rahamat presented one. Gildharie-Muralin’s case was based on the statements the three accused had given to the police, which were admitted as evidence, in which they admitted to killing Ramdass.
Gildharie-Mursalin had said in her opening address that at the time of the incident, the three men were coastguards stationed at Fort Island in the Essequibo River and on August 20, Ramdass, of Third Avenue, Bartica, was at Parika, where he met Kerwain Chance, called ‘Wild Cow’ and Paul Eastman.
Chance and Eastman handed over a carton box containing some $17 million to Ramdass, who gave them a quantity of gold he had in a haversack.
Gildharie-Mursalin had also said that the exchange between the men took place at Parika junction, after which Chance and Eastman dropped Ramdass off at the Parika Stelling, where they saw him walk down the passageway leading to the speedboats.
At about 3.30 pm the same day, Hart, Gordon and Greenidge were dressed in their uniforms and working river patrol with the coastguard boat. They had an M70 rifle with 90 rounds of ammunition in their possession.
According to Gildharie-Mursalin, Hart subsequently received certain information via his cell phone pertaining to a male East Indian wearing sunglasses and carrying a carton. As a result, they began stopping speedboats heading to Bartica in search of the man. Hart did not see the man he was looking for and they headed to the Parika Stelling, where a man matching the description was standing on the beach with a carton next to him. That man was Ramdass.
Hart went to Ramdass and asked him what he had in the box and Ramdass told him he had $17 million, Gildharie-Mursalin said. Upon hearing this, Hart told Ramdass that he had to arrest him and took him to the coastguard boat along with his box containing the money.
Albert Knights, called “Tony,” and a taxi driver, Leonard Brotherson, called “Tucker,” saw when Ramdass left with the three accused and had testified to the court about this during the trial. “Tucker,” who knew Ramdass’ family, immediately contacted the man’s brother, Stephen Persaud.
The three accused took Ramdass to Caiman Hole, where Hart instructed him to take off his clothes, leaving him with his boxer shorts. Greenidge then opened the carton and verified to Hart that the box had money. Ramdass was then thrown overboard and left there while the accused drove off in their boat with his cash.
They then went to the coastguard base, where they split the $17 million among themselves and then headed back to Parika, where Hart called his brother and told him to meet him at Parika with a taxi.
Gildharie-Mursalin also told the jury that Gordon called his sister to collect his share of the cash, while Greenidge called his mother and told her to go to Parika. They handed over the cash to their respective relatives.
The mother was subsequently arrested at Parika with over $5 million and the three accused were taken into custody the same evening.
In Hart’s statement, he told police that at Caiman Hole, he, Greenidge and Gordon made Ramdass take off his clothes before throwing him into the Essequibo River. But Greenidge had said in his statement that Hart was the one who pushed Ramdass overboard, while Gordon said that he did not see who pushed Ramdass overboard.
However, in their defence to the court, they all denied ever picking up Ramdass in their boat and taking him to Caiman Hole. Instead, they said that they picked up a mixed male from Parika and dropped him to Hog Island, where they left him.