Accused in attempted murder of City Mall businesswoman acted on order of husband’s enemy

-trial hears from caution statement

At the trial of Marissa George and John Caesar, who are accused of attempting to murder former City Mall businesswoman Dhanwantie Phulchand, the court yesterday heard that the attack on the woman was organised by a man who did not like her husband.

This is according to a caution statement which was admitted into evidence and which Detective Inspector Cedrick Gravesande said was freely and voluntarily given by Caesar, who detailed his role in the beating they unleashed on the woman.

According to a caution statement, which the Detective said was also taken from George, however, her account was of being at the scene, but never participating in the beating, which she said was carried out by a person she referred to in the statement as “a boy.”

Testifying shortly after the trial commenced, Phulchand had identified both Caesar and George, whom she said she previously knew, as being the persons who had beaten her unconscious.

The jointly charged duo has been charged with attempting to murder the woman on the afternoon of Saturday, July 4th, 2009, in her store, which was then located at the Camp and Regent streets Mall.

According to the caution statement read by Gravesande, Caesar said that about a year before the attack, he was approached by a friend of George, who said there was a man who wanted Phulchand beaten.

The friend, according to the statement, identified the man as an East Indian named “Persaud.”

The statement continued by detailing a conversation between Caesar and Persaud, who related that he wanted the woman beaten because “he don’t like her husband.”

The court then heard from the statement of Caesar acceding to Persaud’s request to beat the woman and encouraging George and the friend to do it.

Caesar, according to statement, said that he was then shown a lady in the mall, into whose store he and George went.

The court heard from the document that Caesar entered the store armed with a piece of wood, with which they began hitting the woman about her body for about three minutes before leaving her on the floor of her store.

Caesar, according to what Gravesande read from the statement, said that as they left the store, he saw George with money in her hand and he informed her that that would be robbery, but she gave him $60,000 which he collected and subsequently made his way into the interior, where he went into hiding.

The court then heard from the detective that Caesar had related that Phulchand knew him from being a cook at one of the stores in the mall.

Caesar was periodically disruptive during the proceedings, especially when the detective testified about the contents of the caution statement he had given to lawmen. His repeated outbursts caused Justice Sandil Kissoon to upbraid him about his conduct.  

Under his cross-examination of Gravesande, Caesar’s attorney Damian DaSilva suggested to him that he had forced his client to sign the statement on which his signature appeared several times, but the lawyer never challenged the contents of the statement or suggested to the witness that his client never made the statement. 

Meanwhile, according to the caution statement which Gravesande said George had also freely and voluntarily given to police, the court heard of the young woman claiming to have been with friends on the day in question when she was approached by “a boy,” whom she knew although she did not know his name.

From what was read to the court, George spoke to Caesar on the ground floor of the mall that day, before they both proceeded to the second storey, where Phulchand’s store was located.

George, according to the statement, had enquired from her co-accused the reason for going into the woman’s store and said he had told her “he going and tek she money from she purse.”

The court then heard of George requesting to try on a pair of size 30 jeans, which Phulchand provided, after which she went into the dressing room and closed the door.

From the statement read, the court then heard of George relating to police of hearing the woman crying out. Gravesande read that it was at this time that the young woman said she quickly dressed herself and ran out of the dressing room and she saw the boy beating the woman with the bag he had gone into the store with.

According to the statement, George related that as the boy lashed Phulchand to her head, “he tell she he gon kill she,” after which she fell to the ground. The court then heard that the boy instructed George to search the woman’s bag for money.

According to the statement, the boy then opened the woman’s bag from which he retrieved a purse, which he placed into the bag he was carrying before taking off his bloodied vest and exchanging it for a jersey which he took from one of the hangers in the woman’s store.

The caution statement detailed George relating that she was given $7,000, which she placed in her pocket after which she locked the door of the store upon the boy’s instructions, before leaving for her Sophia home to “cool out.”

The court heard of the accused being later arrested that day on America Street, where she had gone to purchase a jersey with the money she had received from the robbery along with some cash she had.

“I ain’t do nothing more. Duh is de story,” the young woman said, according to the statement.    

The trial continues this morning at 9 at the Georgetown High Court.

Apart from the attempted murder indictment levelled against the accused, they have been charged with the alternative count of wounding Phulchand with the intention of causing her grievous bodily harm; or to maim, disfigure or disable her.

Additionally, they are also charged with robbing the woman of $527,000, a purse and a shirt and being violent to her during the alleged robbery.

Caesar is represented by attorney Brandon De Santos. The state’s case, meanwhile, is being led by Prosecutor Abigail Gibbs.

In her testimony, Phulchand had told the court that during the brutal beating, the two had kicked out two of her teeth.

She had testified to knowing both her assailants—Caesar she had said, worked as a cook in one of the stores in the Mall, while George was a dancer of the then popular “passa passa” dance group that performed at the City Mall on Saturdays. 

Phulchand had said that earlier on the day she was attacked, she had done a foreign currency exchange transaction before making her way to open her store for business that morning.

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