Two men charged, arrest warrant issued for third

Stabroek News
April 19, 2000

Two of the accused in last Friday's botched robbery on the manageress of Yuppies Depot in which a taxi driver was shot were yesterday refused bail by Magistrate Dawn Holder-Alert, despite claims by their lawyers that the men were badly beaten while in police custody.

Trevor Gaspar, 24, of 37 Ketley Street, Charlestown, and taxi driver Ian Rodrigues, 25, of 71 Middle Road, La Penitence, displayed welts and marks about their bodies, which their lawyers Arthur Alexander and Nigel Hughes said could only have been sustained while the men were in police custody.

An arrest warrant was also issued for Eloi DeBritto called 'Buckman' of 17 James and Hogg Streets, Albouystown.

The three men were charged indictably with the attempted murder of taxi driver Righbert Boatswain and attempting to rob Maimoon Ali, manageress of Yuppies Depot.

The magistrate, in refusing bail for the men, disclosed that she was familiar with the owner of Yuppies Depot, Fizal Ali, and had no alternative but to disassociate herself and transfer the matter to another magistrate.

In her case for the prosecution, Corporal Suzette Cornette related that at about 0800 hrs on Friday, Gaspar and Rodrigues were allegedly seen in the vicinity of Yuppies Depot. The two later entered a car being driven by Rodrigues and left.

Later that day Maimoon Ali was on her way to Citizens Bank, and had about $400,000 and a similar amount in cheques in her possession, when the vehicle stopped to observe the red light at Camp Street and Brickdam.

DeBritto and Gaspar allegedly jumped out of a car driven by Rodrigues, entered the taxi carrying Ali and ordered Boatswain to drive. However, Boatswain turned the car west into Brickdam and headed towards the police station. He was allegedly shot by DeBritto after he refused to stop the car. Boatswain continued driving and turned the car into the police station where he was allegedly once more shot by DeBritto. No money was taken.

DeBritto and Gaspar allegedly exited the car and headed south along Smyth Street before a passing police patrol managed to catch Gaspar.

In arguments for bail yesterday, Hughes and Alexander claimed that their clients were beaten badly by the police while in custody and called on the magistrate to grant bail because of the injuries they sustained while in custody.

However, the prosecutor said that the men had been beaten by public-spirited citizens during their capture. She strongly objected to bail on the grounds that a man had been shot and hospitalised, that the offences had occurred in front of a police station. She also adverted to the rising prevalence of similar crimes.

However, Hughes argued that it was impossible for his client to have been beaten by public-spirited citizens since he was taken into custody hours after the incident. No public-spirited citizen could have inflicted such injuries, the lawyer said. The only conclusion from this, the lawyer said, was that Rodrigues was beaten by the police while in custody.

Gaspar's lawyer, Alexander, requested that the magistrate order the police to produce the citizens who had beaten his client.

The magistrate, noting the severity of the injuries of the two prisoners, adjourned the matter to the afternoon to facilitate this request. However, the police failed to turn up with the citizens and Alexander, expressing his anger, told the magistrate that the court was "being treated contemptuously. It is quite clear that the men received their beating at the hands of the police."

He pointed out that the charge in itself had a problem because it was difficult to comprehend how three persons could be charged jointly with attempted murder when only one firearm was involved. He stressed that one of the principles of granting bail was the strength of the police case before the court.

The matter continues today before Chief Magistrate, Paul Fung-A-Fat. (Leonard Gildarie)