Princes Street drive-by shooting
Three charged with murder
Stabroek News
January 17, 2004

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Curious crowd: Some of the people who protested outside the Georgetown Magistrate's Court yesterday following the charging of Ashton King and Shawn Hinds. (Photo by Jules Gibson)

The furore over the killing of cattle farmer Shafeek Bac-chus ended up in court yesterday when the police slapped murder charges against three men including a well-known city undertaker.

Unexpectedly, just before the Georgetown Magistrate's Court closed yesterday afternoon, police took two of the men implicated in the death of Bacchus there to face charges of murder. They were both remanded to prison.

The three men were charged exactly one week after they were taken into custody. They are owner of the A&D Funeral Parlour, Ashton King, 48, of 104 Pineapple Road, East Ruimveldt; Mark Thomas called `Kerzorkee' of Auby's Wine Bar, Norton and George streets, Werk-en-Rust; and Shawn Hinds, 37, of 14 Eccles New Scheme, East Bank Demerara. Thomas and Hinds are both ex-policemen. The third man did not appear in court, as, according to reports, he fell ill with diarrhoea and collapsed at the Brickdam Police Station when told he was charged with murder. He was taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation where he was admitted.

Acting Chief Magistrate, Juliet Holder-Allen, heard the allegation that the three murdered Bacchus on January 5 as he sat outside his Princes street, Lodge home.

Reports are that shortly after Bacchus was gunned down by men in a speeding car his brother, George Bacchus, publicly said that the bullets were intended for him. He was reportedly a short distance away from home when the drive-by shooting occurred and as the car sped past him, said he saw a man, whom he claims he has known for years, and two others in it. George Bacchus' statement and further revelations over the operation of a death squad have riveted the country's attention over the last week or so.

Confusion reigned outside the court following the men's indictment. A large crowd gathered in and around the courtyard protesting the men's incarceration and calling for the resignation of Home Affairs Minister, Ronald Gajraj.

Debra King, the reputed wife of King, broke down in the courtroom when the men were remanded to prison. With the assistance of friends, she made her way outside weeping uncontrollably. Her friends said that she and King had been trusting with people and were now paying the price.

Hinds, visibly upset at his detention, declared that the case was a set-up while leaving the courtroom. "This is a set up, a whole set up. De PNC want I drink black tea but I ain't got no time. I drinking milk right now. Under the PPP, I drinking milk. I ain't going back to black tea, is milk I drinking and because I ain't wan drink black tea I deh hay. But I ain't drinking black tea when I could drink milk. I get better living under the PPP than the PNC. They say how I kill some man name Bacchus".

He also used obscene language when he was called a murderer by the angry crowd in front the court.

Hinds was dressed in a white t-shirt and brown pants and King was dressed in a blue and black jersey and jeans.

They were handcuffed together, but instead of leaving in the prison vehicle, they left the court in a car.

Meanwhile, a calm King, who was nodding his head during Hinds' outburst, said the allegations made are "negative". He, too, declared the case a set-up.

Attorney-at-law, Vic Puran, who represents King and Hinds, said yesterday that he did not file habeas corpus proceedings because he had faith in the system. Puran said it was public pressure that took his clients before the court. He said that with a complete investigation his clients would not have been charged.

The men were charged just after the police issued a release at 1:34 pm, which stated that the investigation was expected to be completed yesterday.

The first release issued by the police since the death of Bacchus said that the man was allegedly shot by five men who were in a motorcar, three of whom could be identified.

The release said that the police visited the scene and seven 9 mm spent shells and one warhead were found and examined at the police forensic laboratory.

According to the release during the investigation, several persons were contacted and some gave statements. Three of the suspects were arrested. It said a file was prepared and sent for legal advice and the advisers requested that the police conduct further investigations to clear up a number of issues.

"The investigators are currently in the process of expediting these issues in order that the file could be returned for the final legal advice," the release said.

Stabroek News was told that the file was sent to Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions on Wednesday and was returned on Thursday with a request that an identification parade be held. This was done and one of the suspects was identified.

The main witness, George Bacchus, had stated that he was not prepared to have a confrontation with the suspects since he knew the persons in question for years.

The men will return to court on January 28 when the hearing into Bacchus' death resumes.