Dumbbells used to anchor Neesa Gopaul’s body belonged to accused

- murder trial hears

Civilian witness Nazar Mohamed Okeelan yesterday identified the dumbbells which police say were used to anchor the body of murdered teen Neesa Gopaul in a creek at the Emerald Tower Resort, as those he had sold to accused Jarvis Small.

Small and Bibi Sharima-Gopaul, the girl’s mother, are on trial before Justice Navindra Singh and a 12-member jury for murdering her between September 24 and October 2, 2010.

In his testimony yesterday when the trial continued, Okeelan told the court that his nephew had given him some dumbbells as a gift but since he had no use for them he decided to sell the items to Small, whom he knew owned a gym.

Neesa Gopaul
Neesa Gopaul

He said he took the locally-made weights to Small’s gym to be sold at a cost of $4,000. Okeelan said the accused expressed interest in purchasing the weights and paid over $1,500. The witness said he never received the balance of payment as he never revisited Small.

The teen’s body had been stuffed into a suitcase, which was anchored with dumbbells in a creek at the Emerald Tower Re-sort, at Madewini, Linden-Soesdyke High-way.

However, according to Okeelan, while at the police station in the presence of police, Small denied ever purchasing the weights from him.

Asked whether all locally made weights looked like the ones presented in court, the witness told attorney Glenn Hanoman under cross-examination, “Yes, in a sense, all locally made weights.”

Okeelan said he has known Small since 2006 and that the same set of weights he had given him since then were the same ones he was later asked to identify at the station as well as in court. He said he recognised the dumbbells as the one set because of their general appearance.

Bibi Sharima-Gopaul
Bibi Sharima-Gopaul

Hanoman then asked the witness if the first time he had given a statement to the police in the matter regarding the weights was after they were shown to him at the station. He responded in the affirmative.

He also agreed with counsel’s suggestion that the description he had given of the dumbbells in his statement, were based on what he had seen of those presented to him by the police at the station.

Testifying at yesterday’s hearing also was Ravindra Naikram, who said he knew Small from going to his gym to work out. He said he was never a member of the facility, but would go from time-to-time to exercise.

The shopkeeper/truck driver recalled being asked by the accused to transport an exercise machine for him from his gym, to Sharima-Gopaul’s Lot 13 Leonora Public Road, West Coast Demerara home. The man said he made the transport for Small with his truck.

Responding to a question from Hanoman during cross-examination, Naikram said it is true that he had been taken into custody and questioned in relation to Gopaul’s murder. He said he was placed in the Leonora Police Station lock-ups for more than 72 hours, during which time he was periodically released and detained.

He explained that investigators did not ask him whether he had murdered Gopaul or if he knew who did; rather, they asked about the exercise machine which he had transported to Sharima-Gopaul’s house.

 Jarvis Small
Jarvis Small

Asked if it was after being detained that he give a statement in the matter, Naikram said yes.

Meanwhile, quizzed about the dumbbells, Naikram said he could not recall whether the weights presented in court were the same as those the police showed to him while in custody.

As to whether he thought the police treated him “fairly in this entire matter,” the witness told counsel yes.

Welder/fabricator/painter Bharrat Narine Samaroo was the last of the three new witnesses who took the stand yesterday.

He told the court that he has known Small for about 10 years, attended his gym, and worked with him on occasions by designing some of his machines. He too identified the dumbbells shown to him in court as belonging to Small and being the same ones he had once welded and painted for him.

Meanwhile, during the continued cross-examination of Detective Superin-tendent Mitchell Caesar, the witness told Hanoman that Sharima-Gopaul had said words to him which led him to believe that she had malice towards her daughter Neesa.

Sharima-Gopaul was moved to tears during this time in the trial.

Caesar said that while he did not ask the woman using the term “malice” when he spoke to her about her daughter, he said he did enquire from her about the relationship she shared with Neesa and Small.

Responding to a question under reexamination from State Prosecutor Diana Kaulesar, Ceasar explained that when he asked Sharima-Gopaul about the relationship she and her daughter had in relation to Small, she explained that, “when her daughter was around, he treated her unwanted and when she’s not around, he treats her very well.”

All of the witnesses who took the stand yesterday completed their testimonies.

The trial continues this morning.

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