Driver of hijacked car wants police retraction
Stabroek News
March 2, 2002

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Clairmonte Niles, owner of PGG 4697 on Thursday recovered his car from the Brickdam police station where it had been held by authorities conducting investigations into the Mash day jailbreak executed by five felons and during which a prison officer was fatally stabbed and another critically injured.

Niles, a 40-year-old father of three and resident of Malgre Tout, West Bank Demerara, said he was told by law enforcement ranks that they had completed their investigations with regard to him. He was asked to visit the station on Monday after Saturday's incident where he was further questioned by a senior rank and subsequently returned on Thursday and recovered his car.

Niles told this newspaper that he was very disappointed that his car was mentioned as one of the vehicles involved in the crime. He said even though he had refuted the police's claim and their investigation proved him innocent, they had issued no statement to correct the misleading statement, which was carried in the press.

The police had issued a press release on Saturday stating: "the escapees had joined a gray Toyota car #PGG 4697 which was waiting outside and sped away."

He recalled that on February 23, he left his home and headed to Georgetown where he was slated to meet his wife and three children at a relative's home on Wellington Street. He said when he got onto the East Bank Public road he stopped at Agricola where he purchased ice and two bottles of drink.

He said when he got to George Street after turning off Princes Street he saw a group of men trotting towards him and behind them about 100 metres away, a car which appeared to be a police vehicle. It was cruising. He said when he saw the men he first thought that they were police officers in search of a thief.

He said when the men got to him one of them pointed a gun at him while another ordered him out of the car. "I came out immediately without even glancing back and went to a nearby gate. I tried to open the gate but it did not so I jumped into a gutter and hid."

He said while in the gutter he heard the men break into his car. A while after, he said, he got up and saw a senior prison officer, whom he knew, and who he identified by name to this newspaper. He said the officer inquired whether it was his car that had been taken away. He said the vehicle, which appeared to be a police car, pursued, but only after the men had fled in his car.

Meanwhile, another witness, who was in the vicinity and who prefers to remain anonymous, said he had seen Niles' car in front of him in George Street.

The man, who is a mechanic by trade, said that when the men got to Niles' car they ordered him out. He said all of them were armed and he noticed a 9 mm pistol, which had rusted. He said that one of them held Niles at gun-point and forced him out of his car. He said that the police car got to within about 30 ft of the men then stopped. He said one of the men shouted: "Police, shoot, shoot." At that, he said, the police car reversed and he, too, fled the scene, while the men escaped. He said he later returned and had given a statement at the Brickdam Police Station.