Trial over attempted murder of businesswoman set

Dhanwantie Phulchand

The trial of two persons accused of attempting to murder a City Mall businesswoman back in 2009 is set to commence before Justice Sandil Kissoon and a 12-member jury next Monday.

Appearing before the High Court in Georgetown on Tuesday were Marissa George and John Caesar who were arraigned on charges of wounding Dhanwantie Phulchand on July 4th of 2009, with the intention of murdering her.

They both denied that indictment, as well as an alternative count which alleges that on the said day they wounded the woman with the intention of causing her grievous bodily harm; or to maim, disfigure or disable her.

The jointly-charged duo was also charged with robbing Phulchand of $527,000, a purse and a shirt and being violent to her during the alleged robbery.

They pleaded not guilty to this charge as well.

Unrepresented and requesting time to retain counsel, the judge adjourned George’s and Caesar’s matters for commencement of trial next Monday at 9am. He said the jury will also be selected on that day.

Justice Kissoon said he prefers the empanelment process to take place in the presence of lawyers for the accused.

Meanwhile, state counsel Abigail Gibbs made a successful application for the revocation of George’s bail on which she had been previously placed, citing that despite repeated efforts, the police had been unable to locate her at an address she would have provided.

The prosecutor said that since George’s committal in 2012 to stand trial for the alleged offences, several trial dates had been set since May, but the young woman had always failed to appear before the court.

“One could only then conclude that she was running from the Court,” Gibbs surmised.

George in her defence, however, has argued that she was unaware of ever being required to attend court, while adding that the address she provided to the police has always been her residence.

According to her, Monday was the first that she was made aware of the police ever looking for her.

As a condition attached to her bail, the young woman when asked, told the judge that she has always been reporting to the Alberttown Police Station on Fridays.

When pressed for specifics of her visit, she seemed initially unsure of when her last visit was, before noting, “It was last Thursday.” She was unable to provide details on the time of the visit and the name of the officer to whom she reported. 

Gibbs, however, remained adamant that the woman was never at the address whenever lawmen would visit, noting that it was “by God’s grace” that she was found there when police showed up on Monday enquiring and looking for her.

Vehemently arguing that by her refusal to attend court George would have violated a condition on which she had been granted her pretrial liberty, Gibbs asked the judge to revoke the bail.

The prosecutor expressed concern that if George were to be allowed to leave the precinct, she may never return to face justice, while adding that the state may have to be “on a wild goose chase to find her.”

After hearing both George and the prosecutor on the issue, Justice Kissoon declared that the court preferred to err on the side of caution, informing the accused that her bail would be withdrawn and she would be remanded to prison, pending the determination of the matter.

He said that the matter has been pending for some nine years now, and with just about 13 witnesses to be called, it should be brought to a speedy end.

As for Caesar, he has been on remand pending an unrelated matter. 

Phulchand was attacked in her boutique—Rishma’s Fashion.  

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