Pact struck with Brazil for forensic testing

- samples from priority list to be sent in January

Forensic samples taken in at least ten murder cases will be transported to Brazil in January for testing under a recently made arrangement between Guyana and the neighbouring country, according to  Crime Chief Seelall Persaud who said that this will be “highly complementary” to the work of the local police detectives.

Over the years, Guyana had been struggling to find reliable access to forensic analysis which is believed to be key to solving many high profile murder investigations.

Persaud, during a recent interview with Stabroek News, explained that the first request to Brazil for assistance in the area of forensics was made through a liaison officer based in Georgetown. He said that subsequently a formal request was made during a joint annual cooperation meeting, which concluded several months ago.

Seelall Persaud
Seelall Persaud

After the meeting, which was held in Brazil, the discussions went back and forth until the two sides finally reached an agreement to have samples sent to Brazil for forensic analysis. He did not say what else the agreement entailed.

Persaud told this newspaper that this new arrangement will be very beneficial as forensic analysis compliments very highly, the work of detectives. He noted that it is used all around the world and cited cases in the United States solved on forensic analysis alone.

Asked if there is a priority list of cases which would be handled first he responded in the affirmative. Based on what Persaud said, the list comprises ten to twelve murder cases and one non murder matter.

The non-murder matter has to do with the April 14, Sparendaam plane crash which claimed the lives of two foreigners – Pierre Angiel, a 71-year-old American pilot and 54 year old Canadian Engineer Nick Dmitriev. The Crime Chief explained to Stabroek News that one of the men had been burnt beyond recognition. He said the samples being sent to Brazil would be for identification purposes.  It is unclear which one of the men, Persaud was referring to.

 Pierre Angiel
Pierre Angiel

Based on the information this newspaper had receive shortly after the crash, the American-registered N27-FT Piper Aztec plane encountered engine trouble and crashed into a Graham Street, Sparen-daam Housing Scheme residence belonging to 69-year-old Florence Dyer-Tyndall. The house, at Lot 78 Sparendaam burned to the ground as a result of the crash.

The pilot and passenger were part of a larger team contracted by government to conduct LiDAR surveys for different aspects of the planned Amaila Falls hydro project.

The April 12 brutal murder/rape of 90-year-old Millicent Prince-Cummings is among the murders on the priority list, according to Persaud. He had told Stabroek News that the police would rely on the DNA evidence to capture the killer/s.

Several men who were known to be in the area around the time the elderly woman was believed to have been killed had been arrested. Persaud had said too that investigators suspected a drug addict might have been responsible for the crime. All of the men were later released but not before DNA samples were taken from them.

Prince-Cummings, a mother of one was found beneath a house around 05:30 hours with her head bashed in. She was exposed from her waist down. A post-mortem examination later revealed that she had been sexually assaulted and that she sustained blunt trauma to the head.

A condom packet, believed to be linked to the crime, which was found close to the body.

From all indications, the woman was attacked shortly after she left her home on the public road at Cove and John, East Coast Demerara. At the time she was going on one of her usual early morning walks. She was heading in the direction of

Nick Dmitriev
Nick Dmitriev

Victoria and could have been attacked as she passed the abandoned house, which is located next to a cemetery.

Neighbours did not recall hearing anything suspicious prior to the gruesome discovery.

Millicent Prince Cummings
Millicent Prince Cummings

Another case on the list is the murder of Anna Catherina businesswoman Jennifer Persaud and her two small boys. Persaud, 41, and her sons Afridi Bacchus, 6, and Jadon Persaud, 18 months, were discovered on September 22 last in her bedroom, with stabs wounds and their throats slit. The woman was found lying in a pool of blood on her bed, clad in nightwear, with the body of the older child between her legs. The infant was found wrapped up in the netting.

The father of the younger child was a suspect. The 23-year-old man, who had been deported from the US, and an uncle he was living with were arrested but later released. Police had found a pair of pants with a spot of blood belonging to the prime suspect as well as several used drinks bottles at the scene.

Relatives had told this newspaper in August that while they were awaiting the results of the blood and fingerprint samples sent to Brazil, there was still a lot more that could be done at this end. However, based on what the crime chief told this newspaper recently nothing has yet been sent.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had lashed out at the police for their poor work in this case.

 Good move

One source said that this development is a good move and a step in the right direction. The source said while the almost complete Forensic Lab “sorts itself out”, investigators will have some hope of solving criminal matters – not only murders. The source pointed out that doing DNA testing abroad had not only been unreliable but also expensive, resulting in very few samples being sent.

The source pointed out that the Lindo Creek samples which were sent to a lab in Jamaica and the Sheema Mangar samples, which are being handled by a lab in Barbados, were examples of the lack of reliability the force faced when it came to DNA testing. The source said whenever samples are sent, along with having to pay for the testing, the accompanying rank also has to be fed and housed and his airfare has to be paid.

Jennifer Persaud
Jennifer Persaud

Though it is unclear what the price tag attached to the testing is under this new arrangement, the source said that for one thing the distance is shorter.

The crime chief told Stabroek News during the recent interview that the cost of the tests was very high. He said that because of the unreliability issue the force was facing with the Caribbean labs, it had been looking to the United States but it was very expensive.

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