Trinidadian nuerosurgeon approached to treat Winfield
Prisoners had been playing games in yard at time of break-out
Stabroek News
February 25, 2002

A neurosurgeon based in Port of Spain, Trinidad, has indicated his willingness to travel to Guyana and perform the necessary surgery on the 37-year-old female prison officer and mother of two, who was critically wounded last Saturday during a mid-morning jailbreak by five prisoners which left prison officer Troy Williams, 21, dead.

Patrick King, who identified himself as a brother-in-law of Roxanne Winfield, the injured woman, told members of the media yesterday that before the medical expert would give his services a sum of US$3-4000 would first have to be lodged at the at Prime Medical Care Inc or Prasads Hospital, and a ticket would have to be provided. King stated that he had also spoken with another Trinidad-based neurosurgeon whom he referred as Dr Crandon.

He explained that Winfield's condition remained critical and said that the bullet had entered her right jaw and exited through her left ear. King said too that she had already received two pints of blood via the Blood Bank facility at the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPH) and that relatives had donated five pints of blood since two pints had been needed to replace what the Blood Bank had utilised. The remainder would be kept on reserve.

King further said that the Ministry of Health had indicated to Winfield's family that they were unable to assist since the GPH was not equipped to safely Medivac Winfield to Trinidad for the required medical attention. They had been advised by Dr Amerally that it would be medically unwise to remove the injured woman in her current physical state and that the GPH did not have personnel with the expertise needed to administer the necessary treatment at this stage.

He said that persons had approached hospital officials claiming to be relatives of the injured woman and as a result, family members were concerned for her safety. He related that certain family members had approached the Ministry of Home Affairs in a bid to secure security arrangements for Winfield, but that they had been told that while regular police visits could be organised, "round-the-clock" protection could not be guaranteed.


Meanwhile, sources told Stabroek News that Winfield had been stationed at the first of two inner gates situated inside the prison compound when Shawn Brown (the prisoner said to have shot both Winfield and Williams) came out of an area referred to as the `self-support division,' where prisoners who do not depend on the institution for sustenance, receive food and other items like a change of clothing from their relatives. This area is located between the two aforementioned gates.

This newspaper further learnt that Williams had been positioned at the second inner gate and that Brown had walked towards the main gate and had enquired whether anyone had some ice. This was at the point at which Winfield had had to unlock the gate to admit another prisoner. It was then that Brown drew a gun and pointed it at Winfield ordering her to hand over the keys. Instead of complying, however, Winfield had thrown the keys into a corner and Brown had then shot her in the face and seized the keys.

According to sources, Williams had then rushed towards Brown in an attempt to prevent his clearly imminent escape, but had been fatally shot by the prisoner, who fled with fellow inmates Dale Moore, Mark Fraser, Troy Dick and Andrew Douglas. (The last-named of these, allegedly associated with Linden 'Blackie' London's gang had been apprehended in Suriname by authorities the year before last and returned to Guyana to face trial.)

The sources also said that from appearances, Moore, Fraser, Dick and Douglas had been waiting in an area behind the second inner gate, at the time being guarded by Williams, where some one hundred prisoners had been participating in football, cricket and other games under the supervision of officers stationed at strategic points. Stabroek News understands that these games take place every Saturday as a psychological exercise to create a more amicable atmosphere within the jail. They are also intended to inhibit the development of factions which might otherwise lead to conflict among the prisoners.

In a version of events which was reproduced by this newspaper yesterday on the basis of a police press statement, it was said that a prisoner who worked in the laundry department of the institution had approached Williams and Winfield who were on duty at the main gate inside the compound, and had requested the use of an iron. Suddenly, the police version said, Brown had appeared and had fatally shot Williams before seizing the keys and making good his escape with the others. The release went on to say that Winfield had been injured under circumstances which were unclear, but that it was suspected that one of the bandits had inflicted the injuries.

Information reaching this newspaper indicated that the majority of the officers on duty when the incident occurred were attached to other prisons but were currently pursuing a special course at the Georgetown Prison. Further, that the institution is generally short-staffed and that there had been even fewer officers on duty on Saturday than normal, as several of them were participating in the Mashramani celebrations.

Commission of Inquiry

Meanwhile, a Government Information Agency (GINA) press release yesterday stated that a Commission of Inquiry into the incident had been set up by Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj.

The terms of reference were still being finalised, continued the statement, but the commission was expected to commence work today.

It would be chaired by Head of the Police Complaints Authority and former Chancellor of the Judiciary, Cecil Kennard, and its membership would comprise representatives from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), together with a security consultant and a retired senior prison officer, the release said.

Gajraj has expressed grave concern about the incident and has extended his condolences to Williams' family, said the release. The minister, it added, continued to receive complete updates regarding Winfield's condition.

GINA also said that the Guyana Police Force had launched a national manhunt for the escapees, and had alerted law enforcement officials in neighbouring countries. Citizens with any information which could lead to the escaped prisoners' recapture were asked to contact the nearest police station.

Gajraj has once before held an enquiry into a prison break-out, namely in 1999, following the escape of Maxwell 'Lunkie' Melville and three convicted prisoners, who scaled the wall of the Georgetown jail on the John Street side on August 29.

The minister subsequently convened a board of enquiry headed by Peter Willems, which found that there had been a breadkown of the custodial system in the prison on the day in question. It recommended that the surveillance cameras be activated, and extra barbed wire placed on top of the fence.