According to the caution statement admitted into evidence yesterday at the trial of Balram Singh, the accused confessed that he and another man murdered taxi driver Bhomeshwar Sukhdeo.
Singh’s defence, led by attorney Jermaine Jervis in association with Clevaun Humphrey, however refuted that their client ever made such a statement and contended that he was beaten and offered inducements to sign statements prepared by the police.
Singh is on trial for the capital offence before Justice Navindra Singh and a 12-member jury at the High Court, in Georgetown. The charge against him is that between January 19th and January 27th, 2010, he murdered Sukhdeo. He has pleaded not guilty.
Testifying yesterday at the trial was Sergeant Nigel Stephens, who recalled holding a confrontation with Singh, during which he blurted out, “Is me and Travis David kill the driver of the car and sell it to Bharrat.”
Stephens said it was at that point that he put the allegation of murder to the accused and cautioned him that he was not obliged to say anything and that if he did, it might be put into writing and given in evidence against him.
According to Stephens, he then enquired from Singh whether he wanted to put what he had said into writing and the man said yes. He said he then explained to the accused that he could write his statement himself, elect anyone of his choice to do so and also have a relative or his attorney present when the statement was being written.
The witness said that Singh elected him to write what he wanted to say. After recording the statement, Stephens said he then gave it to the accused, who silently looked at it for a while as though he had been reading and, when asked, said he understood.
Stephens told the court that subsequent to taking the caution statement from Singh, he then showed him a missing-person flier, bearing the name and photograph of the deceased, to which he, [Singh], said, “this is the taxi driver we tek the car from and kill.”
‘Is me and Travis do it’
The statement read to the jury by Stephens, which he said Singh voluntarily gave, detailed how Sukhdeo was murdered.
The accused, according to the statement, told Stephens that he wanted money and a car to travel to Suriname and so he contacted his friend Bharrat Narine, who owned a taxi service, to get a car. The court heard that Narine told Singh that he only had a crashed car.
According to the statement, Singh said that on January 19th, 2010, he and Travis David travelled to Georgetown from Agricola and while he waited in the vicinity of Silvie’s Variety Store, David left and later returned in a white wagon with Sukhdeo.
The court heard that Singh got into the back seat of the vehicle, which was driven by Sukhdeo, while David sat in the front passenger seat and directed Sukhdeo to drive to the Agricola Sideline Dam.
The court heard that after arriving there, Singh said David instructed Sukhdeo to stop the vehicle. When the driver complied, the statement said, David pulled out a .38 revolver from a haversack he was carrying and shot the deceased to the left-side of his neck.
The court was further told that David then used a jersey “to stop the blood.”
According to the statement, Singh said that they then placed Sukhdeo in the back seat of the car and he went into the front passenger seat while David drove the vehicle to Eccles, where they placed the body in the bush.
The court heard that David then drove Sukhdeo’s vehicle to Singh’s yard and left and about 6pm, he returned and picked up Singh and the vehicle, after which they retrieved the body from Eccles.
After retrieving the body, the statement details that the men then took it to Mocha access road, where they finally dumped it.
Stephens said after Singh detailed how Sukhdeo had met his end, he [Singh] added, “I din burn no body, wah eva happen is me and Travis do it. I sorry fuh wah eva happen.”
Stephens said Singh then affixed his signature to the statement in the presence of another police officer, who signed as a witness. The witness said that at no time did he or anyone in his presence make use of any threats, promises or inducements for Singh to give the statement.
According to Stephens, on January 28th, 2010, around 11.25 am, Singh directed investigators to an area of the Agricola Sideline Dam, where he said Sukhdeo was killed. The witness said ranks searched the area, but found nothing of evidential value.
The court then heard that the ranks proceeded to Singh’s Second Street, Agricola home, where they found a Courts card, an Akbar Auto Sales receipt and a yellow motorcycle. Stephens said that the accused was questioned about the purchase of the cycle and he told investigators that he used the money which he had gotten from selling Sukhdeo’s car to purchase it.
The court further heard from Stephens that the accused then directed investigators to an area at Industrial Site Eccles, where he pointed out a location as the place they laid Sukhdeo’s body after killing him.
Stephens said he examined the area and observed the grass to have been flattened but found nothing of evidential value.
The court heard from the witness that they then travelled to Mocha, on the East Bank of Demerara, again on Singh’s directions, where he pointed out an area as being the last place where he and Travis David had dumped the body of the deceased.
The witness said that there was a stench in the area. He said that Singh was questioned as to whether he and David had burnt the body but he responded in the negative. Stephens said that all the locations to which Singh had directed police he identified by his own free will.
The Sergeant stressed that the accused gave the statement freely and voluntarily.
During cross-examination, Jervis suggested to Stephens that his client had been promised by the police that once he signed statements that they had prepared, he would have gotten to go home—a suggestion with which Stephens disagreed.
It was also suggested to Stephens that the accused told investigators that he did not know to read and write but could sign his name and that they then prepared the statements for him to sign. “The accused can read and write,” the witness responded.
Stephens disagreed with Jervis that he was the “intellectual author” of the caution statement. He also disagreed with a suggestion from Jervis that the police had cuffed and gun-butted the accused to his stomach.
The witness also disagreed with Jervis’ suggestion that when questioned about the murder, the accused said he knew nothing about it.
Asked whether David was ever charged, Stephens told Jervis no but said that he was arrested.
Responding to further questions from the defence, Stephens said that from his knowledge, Narine had never been charged with receiving a stolen car, but was jointly-charged with Singh for Sukhdeo’s murder.
In response to questions from prosecutor Narissa Leander during a re-examination, Stephens explained that Narine had been discharged of the capital offence at the Magistrate’s Court.
The trial continues this morning at 9.