Owner says his car was hijacked, disputes police statement
Stabroek News
February 25, 2002

Owner of motor car #PGG 4697, Mr Niles, rejects allegations by the police that his car, a grey Toyota Camry, had been parked outside the prison's main entrance waiting for the five prisoners who escaped lawful custody on Saturday.

This newspaper had carried a portion of a police press release dated February 23, in yesterday's issue where it was stated that the escapees had joined a grey Toyota car #PGG 4697 "which was waiting outside and sped away."

Niles who spoke to this newspaper via telephone yesterday said that he had had no part in the crime, and had no idea of the men's whereabouts. He deemed the statement very troubling and provocative. Niles, 40, of West Bank Demerara said that he had gone to Georgetown to team up with his wife and three children on Saturday to watch the Mashramani celebrations when the men approached him, held him up at gun-point and hijacked his car.

He had left home, he said, at about 10:30am and had stopped at Agricola on his way to Georgetown to purchase ice and some drinks. He spent about six minutes there.

He said that when he got to George Street, he saw a group of men coming towards him, and a vehicle which appeared to be a police vehicle a good distance behind them. He said at this time he began to feel nervous and held up his hands in the air signalling that he was not carrying any dangerous weapon.

"I began to panic, but I kept my hands in the air saying to myself I am no thief. But at this time the men came up to my car and one took out a gun, pointed it to me, while the others shouted 'get out de car.'"

At this stage the police vehicle was still far behind the men and he complied with to the men's dictates, and then walked trembling towards a nearby yard seeking assistance. He said all this time he didn't turn around to see what the men were doing with his car out of fear. "When I tried to open the gate it didn't open so I jumped into a nearby gutter and hid behind some bushes that partially hid me from the faces of the men."

He said that while he was in the bushes he heard the breaking of glass, which he later discovered was his rear windscreen. He said a little while after that a senior prison officer whom he knew came up to him and when he told him that it was his car which had been hijacked the officer went after the men.

After the officer left, a man with a red motorcycle in a yard opposite volunteered to escort him to the police station. There he was questioned and gave a statement. Niles said that he was told to return to the Brickdam Police Station today for further questioning.

Meanwhile, an eyewitness to some of the events told this newspaper in a telephone interview yesterday that at about 11:00am he had seen two neatly dressed men running west into D'Urban Street attempting to halt a vehicle. However, no vehicle stopped. Shortly after, a police vehicle drove up along Norton Street, and the men appeared to signal to them indicating where the prisoners had stopped a car. He noted that the car the prisoners had stopped was parked in the middle of the road and three of the men were trying to enter it. He said that as the prisoners were trying to enter the car the driver was thrown out, at which point the police vehicle started to chase after the men. Seeing the police vehicle the fugitives sped away, the eyewitness said, turned into Princes Street and disappeared.

The source said that the two men who had signalled to the police had had the looks of prison officers and he thought they had been trying to chase after the prisoners.