'Chequered past' bandit had owned aquaculture farm
Read Tolstoy, lived on the go
By Christopher Yaw
April 8, 2004
Dead bandit Gopaul Chowtie was constantly on the go, spending a few days at a time on what used to be his aquaculture farm on Western Hog Island, Essequibo River.
The former treason accused also read Dzerzhinsky and Tolstoy and apparently practised shooting while there. Chowtie died on Monday following a shoot-out with police on Sunday night during a robbery at Success, East Coast Demerara.
Andre Henry, who has lived at Hog Island for ten years, is a former employee of Chowtie. Henry told Stabroek News on Hog Island yesterday he had worked for Chowtie for about five years, two of these without pay, helping him to rear red tilapia.
He was "hardly in here he would come in spend a day or two and leave. He was a moving man, he don't stick to one place," Henry said. He added that Chowtie was at the farm about five days ago and had fired off several rounds before leaving just as suddenly as he had arrived.
He recalled that in the past Chowtie also grew coconuts and oranges on his father's estimated 60 acres of land.
The ex-employee said Chowtie had once arrived with a boat load of items which he was extremely nervous about. He had sent Henry and Henry's wife down to the back of his farm and when they got back the boat was empty. But Henry said he later investigated and found a stash covered with leatherette that included guns and wooden crates which he did not open. Henry said Chowtie was in the habit of "bringing in whatever he got his hands on".
Yesterday Henry took a party of men to look at what is left of the farm. It is largely overgrown with bushes including the fishponds.
An old house on the property showed no signs of recent occupancy. The interior was divided in two by a wall and there were several wasp nests of varying sizes in the two rooms. In what may have been the kitchen, bottles of pepper sauce and cocoa stood on shelves, but looked like they had been untouched for several years. There were some pulleys on the floor.
In the other room where there was an old desk, were earmuffs used at a shooting range, old binoculars, fishing lines, lengths of old cable, old engine parts, a length of dredging hose, small bottles of Avon skin cream and moisturizer, an old pair of lady's underwear and several pieces of literature and documents.
Among the documents were several letterheads with the inscription, "G. CHOWTIE Specialised in Agri, Aquaculture, Resort and Hire of Machinery, Anna Regina Housing Scheme, Essequibo Coast, Guyana S.A.". Some of the letterheads included an alternate address "Maraj Building Room E 4, Tel. 02-77434". Among these were a business registration for "G.C. Enterprise" and a bank deposit slip all dated 1999. The documents included also a letter from a bank acknowledging a loan of $300,000 for the purchase of fish feed.
There were receipt books and an application for a gun licence dated late 1999, and an application for a radio licence. The man had a business card with the name of a prominent party lawyer, as well as a letter of endorsement by the same lawyer attached to the gun licence application. There was also a Guyana-Soviet Friendship Society Membership Card dated August 8, 1976 and bearing the name Gewan Chowtie.
The literature included pamphlets from Mainstay Resort and on investment in Guyana for instance, 'Guyana Quick Reference Guide to Investment'. Other reading material included books by Felix Dzerzhinsky, Mussa Jalil and Leo Tolstoy. He also had books on small-scale fish farming and fishery statistics along with several old magazines.
Chowtie's neighbours Davy and Holiwattie Randolph said the man had cows and reared tilapia and hassar on his farm. They said at one time, in the preparation of his aquaculture venture, Chowtie had a hymac on his farm and estimated that this was about five years ago.
The Randolphs said that although Chowtie still visited his home, sometimes they would not see him for months. "He don't spend a long time here."
They recalled that Chowtie grew up on the farm. "In the old man's [his father] time they used to farm." They said Chowtie himself once planted passion fruit there.
The Randolphs live close to Chowtie's daughter and son-in-law, who were not at home yesterday. They said Chowtie's wife lives in Anna Regina and he also had a house in Supenaam Creek, Essequibo.
Following the robbery at Success, East Coast Demerara and Chowtie's subsequent death from gunshot wounds on Monday, the police recovered several items at the scene. These included one 22 Rossi revolver with five live rounds, one 22/20 Savage combination shotgun with one live cartridge, one AK-47 assault rifle, two matching magazines and 57 live 7.62 x 39 ammunition, one .32 Taurus pistol with 11 matching rounds, one 32 spent shell, a large quantity of local and foreign currency, 17 ounces of raw gold, two pairs of black gloves, a wallet containing a national identification card and firearm licence issued last year and one holster and a hood among other items. Stabroek News understands some $2.8M and US$1,750 were also found at the scene. A .32 Taurus Pistol, found at the scene was licensed to Chowtie.
Chowtie had also allegedly been involved in piracy.