Woman loses both hands in violent domestic row

By Samantha Alleyne
Stabroek News
August 7, 2000

A bitter row on Saturday from Mocha Arcadia to Georgetown and back led to a man chopping off both hands of a woman and the police were forced to fire shots to save him from angry villagers.

Courtney Purlette, 48, and his reputed wife Sonia Hinds, 42, both of 19, Second Street, Mocha, East Bank Demerara are both now patients of the hospital. The woman is in critical condition with both of her forearms severed.

Speaking to Stabroek News yesterday in the Intensive Care Unit, Hinds said that herself and husband had a quarrel over a pair of shoes. The woman said that she is employed at Guyana Stores Limited as a security guard and because she wore a different pair of shoes to work on Saturday it caused a problem with her husband. She explained that Purlette, with whom she shared an eight-year union, was in the habit of getting upset over the smallest of matters. With her face partly hidden by a bandage, the woman said that her husband visited her workplace and the argument continued until they returned home. There, she decided to leave the home and he followed her and both of them travelled to Georgetown in the same bus but went different ways on arrival.

Hinds, a mother of three, returned home later in the evening and found her husband there and he continued to argue with her. In the process he cuffed her in the face causing damage to her left eye. The woman then turned her back on her husband and proceeded into the kitchen when she felt what she thought was a lash behind her neck with a cutlass. It was only after she sank to her knees that she realized that her husband had chopped her on the neck. The woman said she then asked "Courtney is chop you chop me?," and he replied in the affirmative and continued chopping her. This caused her to use both of her hands to fend off the chops and it resulted in both hands being severed while she sustained several chops to her head and one to her foot.

During the assault, Hinds said she was screaming for her neighbours but no one rushed to her rescue immediately. Purlette, who sustained a cut to a vein behind his right foot, left the home closing the door behind him and leaving his wife lying on the floor in a pool of blood.

Relatives of the woman said that when the man emerged through the door a neighbour enquired from him what was happening and he told her that Hinds was unwell and he was going for a car to take her to the hospital. This reply did not satisfy the neighbour who along with others forced their way into the house and saw the plight of the woman. She was immediately lifted out of the house and rushed to the hospital. Her hands and fingers dropped off on the way to the car.

Meanwhile, Purlette who was only dressed in his underwear at the time, was chased by angry residents and in an attempt to escape he threw himself into a nearby trench. However, he was dragged out of the trench and dealt some blows by neighbours who were halted in their action by a police patrol car. According to reports the law enforcement officers were forced to fire warning shots before the residents laid off of the man. He was then put into the police vehicle and taken to the hospital where he was admitted.

Shocked residents, who were at the woman's bedside, said the man was always in the habit of abusing his wife. They claimed, and this was supported by Hinds, that he accused her of having an affair with another man.

When Stabroek News visited Purlette's bedside, he was handcuffed to the bed and guarded by a policeman. He was surrounded by relatives and was attempting to relate what had taken place. This was halted by the arrival of Hinds' only sister who in tears asked him why he had turned her sister into a "vegetable". The remorseful looking man told her that he was sorry that it had to end that way.

There were clashes between the relatives of the two patients and Purlette's relatives alleged that he had had a lot to put up with. Hinds' relatives pointed out that even though the woman was a security guard she was also a seamstress and a hairdresser part-time. They lamented that she would now be unable to earn a living.

Hinds had reportedly told Purlette during the row that he should leave her home.

Follow the goings-on in Guyana
in Guyana Today