Ashton King freed of Shafeek Bacchus murder charge
-decision pending on co-accused
Stabroek News
July 23, 2004

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Funeral parlour co-owner Ashton King was yesterday freed of the charge of murdering cattle farmer, Shafeek Bacchus - the killing that sparked the explosive death -squad furore.

King walked out of the Georgetown Magistrate's Court a free man after Magistrate Adrian Thompson upheld no-case submissions by attorney Vic Puran.

King, one of three men accused of killing the cattle farmer, appeared dazed for several moments then slowly exited the courtroom after being told he was free to go.

Bacchus was gunned down outside his Princes Street home on January 5, 2004, and King was implicated by Shafeek's now-dead brother George in the killing. King was charged along with ex-policemen Shawn Hinds and Mark Thomas called `Kerzorkee'.

Thomas died in mysterious circumstances at the Georgetown Public Hospital where he had been hospitalised after becoming ill on learning that he had been charged with Shafeek's murder. Hinds' fate may be known today when the magistrate is expected to rule on the case against him

King, co-owner of the A&D Funeral Home and Parlour, and who had been incarcerated for five months now after being charged with the capital offence, left the Georgetown Magistrate's Court in a Toyota 4-runner.

The other co-owner of King's business and his reputed wife, Deborah Douglas, is currently in prison for allegedly conspiring to murder Shafeek's brother George. Ironically, she too was in court yesterday for the continuation of proceedings in the murder charge against her.

Magistrate Thompson declared King a free man following no-case submissions by King's attorney Puran after the prosecution, represented by State Counsel Simone Morris, had closed its case.

The magistrate upheld the no-case submissions and ruled that there was no evidence against him.

"No witness has said anything adverse to the number three accused, as such the prosecution's case against my client is that he denied the allegations when put to him and as such there is no case," Puran submitted.

Puran also told the court that the only person who mentioned King's name is Inspector Lloyd Fraser who testified on July 8 and told the court that he had questioned King about the allegations but King kept on denying them.

After Magistrate Thompson had ruled, King got up from his seat in the dock, opened the gate and made his way through the court's door and down the steps in an apparent state of shock while his family and friends greeted him joyously.

Just before the prosecution closed its case in Court 5 before Magistrate Thompson, attorney-at-law Compton Richardson completed his cross-examination of the sole eyewitness Aubrey Price and Detective Constable Gerald Aaron was called to the stand to give his evidence-in-chief. Aaron's evidence dealt mostly with the identification of Shafeek's body.

Richardson made his no-case submissions for his client Hinds and State Counsel Simone Morris, who is appearing in the capacity of prosecutor is expected to make her response today to Richardson's submissions.

The case into the murder of Shafeek Bacchus began on May 4 before Chief Magistrate Juliet Holder-Allen despite many delays and obstructions including two bomb hoaxes. Holder-Allen however withdrew from it on June 23 because of allegations made on TV by George Bacchus that she was on a hit list. George Bacchus was murdered shortly after. George Bacchus had been expected to testify in the inquiry into his brother's murder but never got the chance.

The inquiry into the death of Shafeek Bacchus started afresh on June 28 before Magistrate Thompson.

Meanwhile, King's reputed wife, Douglas, along with Delon Reynolds, the former handyman of the late self-confessed death-squad informant George Bacchus, made their second appearance yesterday in the Georgetown Magistrate's court before Principal Magistrate Cecil Sullivan who is holding for Chief Magistrate Juliet Holder-Allen.

The two were charged jointly on July 2 with the murder of George Bacchus also known as 'Bombalay', while an arrest warrant was issued for Fabian Jessop who is also known as 'Fabie'. Sullivan adjourned the case to next Thursday for report.

Puran who is also representing Douglas asked the magistrate to institute a new charge for Douglas and Reynolds separately from that of Jessop since Jessop could not be found and this was delaying the commencement of the preliminary inquiry.