Three weeks have passed since the Guyana Police Force announced a $10 million reward for information leading to the arrest of four remaining prison escapees but acting Commissioner of Police David Ramnarine yesterday said that the inmates are still under the radar.
When asked if the police had gotten any responses to the reward offer, Ramnarine responded, “not that I can recall.”
He, however, noted that the police remain diligently engaged with a view of ensuring their apprehension.
The police force has also made continuous appeals to members of the public, relatives and friends of the escapees to give any relevant information as to their whereabouts so that they can be captured and returned to the prison.
Earlier this month, the police had announced the reward for any information leading to the arrest of murder accused Uree Varswyk, also known as ‘Malcolm Gordon,’ Bartica massacre convict Mark Royden Durant, also known as ‘Royden Williams’ and ‘Smallie,’ Cobena Stephens, called ‘OJ,’ and Paul Goriah.
The first three were among the inmates who fled from the Georgetown Prison, while the latter subsequently fled from a Lusignan Prison holding area.
Since July 9, when several fires started by inmates almost destroyed the entire Georgetown Prison, a total of 19 prisoners have managed to escape; six during and after the Camp Street fire and 13 from the holding facility at Lusignan on July 24.
From the group of six who had escaped from the Georgetown prison, Desmond James, Cornelius Thomas and Stafrei Hopkinson Alexander have since been recaptured. James was captured on the night of July 14, in an unfinished shack on an access dam at Canal Number One Polder, West Bank Demerara, Thomas was arrested in ‘C’ Field, Sophia on July 17, and Alexander, also known as “Anthony Williams” and “Ratty,” was cornered at Topoo Village, Corentyne on the night of July 29 and surrendered peacefully.
However, there has been no sighting of Varswyk, Williams and Stephens.
Williams is believed to be the mastermind of the Camp Street breakout and based on eyewitness accounts, Varswyk played a major role.
Williams, who had previously attempted to escape lawful custody, was in February of this year sentenced to death after being convicted on seven of the twelve counts of murder in the February 17, 2008 Bartica massacre.
It was revealed by acting Director of Prisons Gladwin Samuels at a press conference that based on eyewitness accounts it was Varswyk who shot and killed prison guard Odinga Wickham. Wickham, who was shot several times to the chest, succumbed at the Georgetown Public Hospital the same evening.
Varswyk was also identified as the person who shot and wounded three other prison officers: Jason Maltay, Drexel Gonsalves and another only identified as Liverpool.
Samuels explained that all four prison officials gave the same account of being shot by Varswyk.
Maltay, 20, and another officer, Hubert Trim, 39, were ambushed in the administrative building. While Maltay was shot once in his right leg, Trim was beaten, and chopped several times about his body and thrown through a window.
Varswyk, a former Tactical Services Unit trainer, was last year committed to stand trial for the murder of Sterling Products Ltd security guard Wilfred Stewart, who was shot multiple times during a foiled robbery at the company’s Providence, East Bank Demerara establishment.
Seven men, Winston Long, Tishan McKenzie, Odel Roberts, Jamal Forde, Rayon Jones, Jason Howard and Jamal Joseph were nabbed at various locations on the evening of July 24, hours after their escape from the Lusignan holding area. Kendell Skeete was nabbed in an abandoned house in Wisroc Housing Scheme, Wismar, Linden on July 26; Pascal Smith was apprehended in a pit latrine in Kitty on July 28; and Clive Forde was shot dead on July 30 during a confrontation with members of the Joint Services in East Ruimveldt. Kerry Cromwell turned himself over to the police at the Brickdam Station in the company of his mother and Shawn Harris was arrested in the bottom flat of a two-storey house in Mocha.
The thirteen inmates escaped from the Lusignan facility between 1 am and 2.30 am during a heavy downpour, after digging a tunnel that took them under the fence and into the backlands.