Nine days after businesswoman Sirmattie Ramnaress was found bludgeoned to death in her Diamond house, the police seem clueless despite the wealth of leads available, raising ongoing questions about the investigative competence of the force amid sweeping reforms that were announced nine months ago by the Home Ministry.
No one has been charged and the police have not said if there is a suspect in the case though the woman’s reputed husband, a policeman, has been questioned.
Security sources say one circumstance of Ramnaress’s murder has exposed the ineffectiveness of the government’s much vaunted CCTV surveillance system and the failure of the police intelligence network. In the aftermath of the murder, presumably on the morning of July 31, Ramnaress’s vehicle was driven by the murderer/s from Diamond on the East Bank to Liliendaal on the East Coast and abandoned. The path taken could have avoided CCTV cameras – raising questions about the wisdom of their placement – but it is also possible that certain of the cameras could have picked the vehicle and the driver up. There has been no word from the authorities on this. The police have no control over these cameras but can have access to footage if needed. There are strong doubts over whether the cameras are functioning or whether their output is ntegrated and monitored on a daily basis. The government has steadfastly refused to address who is in charge of the intelligence apparatus that is meant to be monitoring the cameras.
Aside from the cameras, the police seem to have no human intelligence on the occupant/s of the vehicle on what would have been a 20 to 25-minute trip in broad daylight on a day of visible security on the streets for the visit of the Venezuelan President that morning. This has further baffled security observers.
The observers also point out that both Ramnaress’s premises and the vehicle found at Liliendaal would have been rich sources of forensic evidence and fingerprints but not even this has presented the police with a viable lead. It is also unclear whether police intend to have evidence at the scene of the crime tested for DNA.
While up to yesterday no one had been held for the murder, residents in the area believe that investigations into her business associates may lead police to the killer.
Police had told Stabroek News that the case was “still very active” but would not go into detail on the leads being followed.
Residents in the area said that “questionable characters” frequented the woman’s house in heavily tinted vehicles and would sometimes have men stand guard while they went into house. Residents say that they are afraid to go to the police with the information they have as they cannot be guaranteed their personal safety.
“So many people used to go there …you don’t want to be watching steady because they might say you minding dem business and next thing is something happen to you,” one resident said.
“If we go and tell this or that, word get way of going back to people and whenever done is Guyana we live and is Guyana police we dealing with …let them do they work same way we know other people know let them do they work,” the resident added.
Another explained that she could not give much information because she was hardly at home and did not pay much attention to activities at the house.
Ramnaress was found dead at around 10 am on July 31 with a stab wound and injuries to her head and her body in the garage of her home. Persons who saw the body noted that it appeared that the woman was bludgeoned to death given the severity of injuries and marks of violence on the body.
While petrol was thrown all over her house, it was the bond at the back of the yard that was set alight and destroyed. She was discovered after the fire service had been called about a blaze at the house.
According to a police press release, the home was ransacked and drenched with a flammable liquid and a storage bond at the rear of the building was destroyed by fire. Police also said that her car was found abandoned on the public road at Liliendaal.
An autopsy performed by government pathologist Dr Nehaul Singh determined that she died as a result of a ruptured spleen and brain haemorrhaging. These would both indicate a savage beating with the intent to murder rather than to rob.
A source told this newspaper that on the day Ramnaress was killed, her home alarm did not give its usual deactivation sound as was customary every morning. This and the fact that the northern gate on the front fence was open lent credence to the view that the woman was alive early Saturday morning and probably allowed her killer entry to the house.
None of the persons Stabroek News spoke with remembers seeing her vehicle being driven on the day before or on the day of her murder yet it was found shortly after her body was discovered at Liliendaal.
There are no CCTV cameras on the East Bank of Demerara so it is difficult for police to acquire video footage to assist in knowing what time the car departed Diamond. There are however cameras leading to the East Coast.
Yesterday, residents in the area were disturbed that one day after her funeral her family had begun moving household furniture and other articles from the Lot 2430 21st Street, Diamond house.
When her reputed husband, police sergeant Colin Bailey was asked if he was aware of the family’s actions, he said that he had heard but was more focused on seeing how he could assist in catching his wife’s killer(s).
Some of Ramnaress’ relatives have disputed that she and Bailey were in a relationship saying she had an overseas-based fiancé. However Bailey produced evidence which he says proves that he had a long-term relationship with the woman and that while he knew of the “so called fiancé” he knew the man as his wife’s business partner.
Residents both at Diamond and at Vryheid’s Lust also backed him up saying that the duo lived together, alternating their stays at both residences with them calling Ramnaress “Aunty Savo”. They said that while the Diamond house was being built the two lived at Vryheid’s Lust. Bailey too had said this before.
He had also showed bank statements, bills and other documents that came to his address for Ramnaress. Further, in rooms of the house there was evidence that the woman lived there, including clothing and items she had brought for resale.
A source close to Ramnaress’ family told this newspaper that the relatives who have disputed her relationship with Bailey were not close to her although they have since taken up residence at her Diamond home.