Jamar Norville, the taxi driver who allegedly hit and killed Osmond Griffith, the main witness in the faeces assault on newspaper columnist Freddie Kissoon, initially claimed that he was threatened to kill the man but then changed his story, a prosecutor yesterday told a court.
Addressing Magistrate Zamilla Ally-Seepaul at Norville’s arraignment on charges of causing death and drunk driving, Police Prosecutor David Goodridge, said that due to the nature of the claims both the Traffic Department and the Criminal Investigation Department are still investigating.
Norville, 27, of Lot 427 Schoonord, West Bank Demerara, pleaded not guilty to the two charges and was set $1,050,000 bail.
Norville, who is attached to Cyril’s Taxi Service, was charged with having driven his car, HC 4399, on September 2, at Industry Railway Embankment, in a manner dangerous to the public, thereby causing the death of Griffith. It is also alleged that he drove the vehicle while his breath alcohol level exceeded the legal limit.
Attorney Adrian Thompson, who represented the accused, told the court that his client was kept in police custody in excess of 72 hours. He also said that at the time of the accident, Norville had two passengers in his car. Thompson said that his client, after the accident, left the scene because persons were attacking him.
Thompson said that his client is of the belief that he did not kill Griffith and that the man was pushed into the path of his car. He said that though persons may believe Norville’s involvement in the man’s death to be suspicious, since Griffith was a central witness in the trial of Kwame McCoy, Jason Abdullah and Shawn Hinds for the assault on Kissoon, their suspicions are unfounded and he attested to knowing Norville for a while. Thompson subsequently begged for reasonable bail, while telling the court that his client is not a flight risk and he would lodge his passport at a police station.
However, Goodridge sternly objected to the accused being granted bail. According to him, Norville’s story to the police has changed several times. He said the man had told the police that someone had placed a gun to his head and had told him to kill Griffith. He added that the man subsequently changed his story and told the police that he saw Griffith being pushed into the path of the vehicle. The prosecutor said that because of these stories, the investigation is incomplete and ranks from the Traffic Department and the Criminal Investigation Department have joined forces to work on the matter.
The prosecutor said that so far, police have determined that Norville was driving at a fast rate, heading west along the Railway Embankment Road, when he collided with PJJ 8828, which was stationary. As a result of the collision, he lost control of the vehicle and hit Griffith. The deceased, who sustained multiple injuries, was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital where he was rushed afterward.
Goodridge also told the court that after the accident, Norville fled the scene and was later caught by the police hiding out at a friend’s house at the University of Guyana road. He opined that all this could be corroborated by the passengers who were in the car at the time of the accident. He said though Thompson told the court that his client was working at the time of the accident, that was not true since persons saw him drinking at a popular spot with the passengers who were in the vehicle.
Goodridge also told the court that Norville gave the police a different home address from the one he provided to the court.
After hearing the submissions, the magistrate granted Norville $1 million bail for the causing death charge and $50,000 on the driving while under the influence charge. He was also ordered to lodge his passport and report to the Sparendaam Police Station. The matter was adjourned until September 30.