Death squad killings
Courier may have been used then silenced Relatives call for probe
February 22, 2004
A man who once delivered money to fugitive Mark Phillips was used by suspected members of a death squad who later killed him after he saw too much, according to reports.
Lloyd Bourne was found dead on the Turkeyen access road on May 18, last year, hours after he had been bundled into a white car, which was reportedly driven by suspected death squad member, Axel Williams.
Bourne is believed to have been killed after he learnt of the inner workings of the group, including the city location where the bodies of some torture victims were stored before they were dumped.
Now his relatives say that they want the reports that have been circulating since his murder to be properly investigated so as to bring his killers to justice.
The reports about Bourne's murder also reveal a link between criminals like Phillips and some suspected members of a death squad that was said to have been set up to eliminate them. The group is credited with the killing of several of Guyana's most wanted criminals and accomplices who wreaked havoc on the country for almost two years.
Bourne, 26, was still living with his mother in East Ruimveldt at the time of his death. He was trying to make a living doing part-time jobs at a well-known bar and at another business place.
He had left home that Sunday to help with the preparations for a function that had been planned for the same night at the bar, where he was supposed to work as gatekeeper. He was playing cards outside that afternoon when a policeman (whose name was given to Stabroek News) pulled up and asked him to go home. He ignored the order and went into the bar, leaving the lawman standing outside. It is unclear what occurred next but Bourne left a few minutes later and the policeman followed him in his vehicle.
Bourne's body was found that night on the Turkeyen access road. Some people in the area recalled hearing what sounded like gunshots shortly before his body was discovered. They also said that a white vehicle was seen speeding away towards the city.
The motive for the killing was unknown at the time, but robbery was ruled out as cash was found on him. In the wake of the revelations about the activities of an alleged death squad, several people have come forward with information relevant to the killing.
A courier for 'Big Batty Mark'
New reports indicate that a suspected death squad member was paying Bourne to smuggle money and other items to Phillips, known as `Big Batty Mark,' who was hiding in Buxton. Earlier reports had the death squad member harbouring the February 2002 prison escapees following their jailbreak.
It was not until after Bourne's death that it was learnt that he had had contacts with Phillips, a criminal wanted for the murder of several policemen, as well as for kidnappings and armed robberies. Phillips is said to have been the gunman behind a bloodbath in Albouystown, where three men were killed and another lost his arm. On May 15, he and another man were killed in Buxton by army ranks. Three days after that, Bourne was also killed, and it is now thought that the very man for whom he was smuggling items to Phillips, organised his abduction and murder.
Bourne's mother, Pam Fletcher, admitted to Stabroek News that her son had known Phillips, who had grown up in the East Ruimveldt community. She also admitted to hearing reports that he had indeed had dealings with him. It is for this reason she thought her son had been killed - for not knowing any better and for trusting the wrong people who had manipulated him.
Fletcher recalled conversations she had overheard between her son and a man which had made her concerned for his safety. She described one instance where she was listening in from an extension and overheard her son telling the man that he did not want to make a delivery. She also remembered the man's insistence that her son do as he was told. It was at this point that she told her son to put down the phone. He did so, but he then put on his shoes and left the house to see the man.
On the day Bourne was killed, a party of policemen raided his house. He was not home at the time, but his mother was there. She said that they had claimed they were looking for a wanted man. They found no one in the small two-storey house and offered her an apology.
The involvement of the policeman who went to Bourne's workplace is uncertain, but the family did make a formal report about him at the Sparendaam Police Station. The police denied any involvement in the killing but said they were investigating the report. The results of that investigation were never revealed to the family.
Went for food and never returned
There are different accounts of what happened inside the bar, but the versions are all in agreement on the one point that Bourne left to buy food.
His family was told at the time that he had informed one of his employers that he was hungry and he was then given money to buy food. But Bourne did not live very far away and would usually go home when he needed to eat.
In another version of events, Bourne went into the bar after being harassed by the policeman. Inside, a relative of the man for whom he worked as a go-between with Phillips, told him to go and buy food for himself. He gave him the money, even though Bourne informed them that he wasn't hungry.
There is also said to have been an exchange between Bourne and the man just before he left the bar. Bourne told the man that he would return soon, to which the latter replied, "You sure? You sure you will come back?"
He never did. Some time after that he was forced into a white car by men, one of whom is believed to have been Axel Williams. He was identified by at least two people.
The same car was also spotted three months later when another man was abducted and killed under similar circumstances. That murder is also still unsolved.
It is reported that Bourne was taken to a South Georgetown location and beaten before he was taken to Turkeyen and killed.
One of the motives behind the killing is thought to be his discovery of a room that stored the dead bodies of some of the people who were abducted, tortured, and then murdered. In addition, it is also suggested that he sometimes used the money intended for Phillips for his own purposes, and that his knowledge of the relationship between the man who used him as a go-between, and Phillips after the latter had been killed, also put him in danger.
"I want justice for my child. I need justice for my child. If my son was a thief... if he did drugs, I would have understood," said Bourne's mother. Fletcher said her family fell apart when her son died. She has one son who failed his CSEC examinations, which he sat around the same time that Bourne was killed, while another son has refused to return to Guyana.
Fletcher said there were a lot of people with more information about her son's murder but they did not feel confident that their identities would be kept confidential.
"They would take a chance with anybody else but the police. Anybody else. The police leak information. They say what you didn't tell them. They put their own thing in and try to make you a liar."
Stabroek News has conducted two separate interviews with people who have had close contact with suspected members of the gang which will be published at a later time. In both interviews, the parties indicated that they were unwilling to repeat their claims to the police or have their identities revealed out of fear for their own safety.
Many of these revelations have come out after George Bacchus admitted that he had once used his own money to locate criminals for the group, which killed several wanted men in well-planned executions.
He told the local media and officials at the US Embassy that the group was operating with the knowledge of Minister of Home Affairs Ronald Gajraj. He also implicated several senior policemen and prominent businessmen as having connections with the group. Gajraj has dismissed the allegations as false.
Bacchus identified three men who he alleged were members of the group who mistakenly killed his brother, Shafeek. Ashton King, Shawn Hinds and Mark Thomas were subsequently arrested and charged with the murder of Shafeek Bacchus. Thomas has since died in hospital.