Rose Hall man found guilty of murder of ‘Watermelon Man’

Stafford Harry leaving court

A mixed jury at the High Court in Berbice on Monday found a Rose Hall Town man guilty of murdering a New Amsterdam Market vendor during the course of a robbery at his Hampshire, Corentyne home in early 2010.

The man, Stafford Harry called “Bilall”, of Lot 40 New Market Street, Rose Hall Town, Corentyne was accused of murdering New Amsterdam Market vendor Hansraj Samaroo, called ‘Watermelon Man’ between March 27, 2010 and March 28, 2010.

After the verdict of guilty was read, Harry shouted, “Wow,” and instantly broke into tears, as he stared intensely at the jurors.

Hansraj Samaroo

The judge then ordered a probation report to be presented, after which, Harry will be sentenced when he returns to court on July 3.

After court, Harry cried profusely, telling reporters present, “Me ain’t want media do nothing for me”. A guard at the court informed media operatives that, “The accused [had] requested that his picture not be taken.”

According to the state’s case, which was presented by Prosecutor Tuanna Hardy, the accused while in the company of two or more persons, robbed the Samaroos at their home, during which the accused shot the vendor.

The vendor’s wife, Kumarie Samaroo, who was at home during the robbery, had told the court that she and her husband had returned from the market on March 27, 2010 around 5 pm.

According to the woman, her husband took a bath and went upstairs, while she prepared dinner in the kitchen. She then saw a man who had a “rag” tied around his face behind her.

The woman told the court that the man had ordered her to take off her jewellery, but instead she refused, and started to scream for her husband who was upstairs.

She said the accused, who she identified as “Bilall,’ then rushed towards the upstairs, where moments later she heard a gunshot.

The woman noted that from where she was standing downstairs, she could clearly see where her husband was, and when the accused shot him. She then immediately ran upstairs where she saw her husband standing in front of the accused, who was armed with a gun.

The woman had said that her husband was holding his right thigh, where he had been shot, and which was bleeding profusely.

However, she told the court that when she ran towards her husband, the accused started to slap her and demanded that she take off all of her jewellery. The woman added that it was during this time that the accused took off the rag on his face.

Meanwhile, according to the state’s case, the accused had begun, two week to three weeks before the incident, to borrow a push cart which belonged to one of the vendor’s sons, and it was due to this activity that the woman was able to recognize him.

After the men carried out the attack, one of Samaroo’s sons rushed after them with his motorcycle, but had to retreat after they had reportedly started to discharge rounds towards him. He had said that he had recognised “Bilall” from his voice, during the escape.

Kumarie had stated that her neighbours had taken her husband to the hospital, where he underwent an emergency operation, before succumbing one day after the attack.

Dr Vivekanand Brijmohan gave the cause of death as shock and haemorrhage, due to a lacerated artery.

Meanwhile, representing Harry was attorney at Law, Sasha Roberts from Legal Aid, whose defence was that Harry was not in the country at the time of the robbery.

Harry, in his sworn statement, had claimed that he was in Suriname doing construction with his brother back in 2010.

According to Harry, he was working in Barbados and had returned to Guyana in 2005 for a funeral. However, after learning that his children’s mother was entwined in another relationship, he had then moved to Suriname.

Hardy in her cross-examination had asked Harry if he had any proof to produce to the court that he was in Suriname at the time of the robbery, such as, receipts of any kind.

However, Harry had stated that his brother in Suriname would be willing to return to Guyana and testify to such.

Meanwhile, Roberts had argued that the post-mortem results did not indicate that the victim had died as a result of a gunshot wound. She also questioned, why would a robber remove the rag from his face which was concealing his identity during the crime?

A total of seven witnesses testified during the trial. Additionally, the court and jury had visited the crime scene during the trial, so as to get a better understanding of what was being said by the witnesses.

Samaroo’s wife, his son, Samuel Samaroo and other relatives, who were at court told Stabroek News that they were satisfied with the verdict, since they felt that justice had finally been served.

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