Three-year reign of terror ends
Neil Bovell shot dead by police
By Gaulbert Sutherland
Stabroek News
December 28, 2006

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Notorious wanted man Neil Bovell was shot dead by police at Stanleytown, West Bank Demerara yesterday as he tried to escape from his father's house where he had apparently spent the holidays. Bovell's father was subsequently arrested.

Residents of the area expressed relief that the Bovell saga which had been running for years is over. Many said they were happy that he was finally dead.

According to reports, the police, acting on information, swooped on Bovell's father's home in Stanleytown yesterday where the wanted man was apparently spending the holidays and as he made a bid for freedom, shot him several times. Although wounded he managed to run some distance away into a bushy area before being shot dead. His body was identified for the police by his father, who was then taken into police custody.

A police statement yesterday said that Bovell was "fatally shot at his father's residence at Stanleytown, West Bank Demerara, during a police operation".

Residents and the police had frequently expressed concern that Bovell's relatives were providing him with shelter and supplies. Bovell, a former policeman, also knew the area well and had established several well-appointed camps in the backlands over the years.
Police taking away the body of Neil Bovell yesterday. (Gaulbert Sutherland photo)

After the incident a large crowd thronged the area with many proclaiming that they were happy that the dreadlocked Bovell was dead. As his bare-chested body was being carried to the hearse many rushed to catch a glimpse of the notorious man's corpse despite the efforts of the police to keep them at bay. The body was taken to the West Demerara Regional Hospital.

A resident who lived close to the area where Bovell was shot told Stabroek News that it was around 10 am that he heard rapid gunfire. He said he quickly went to investigate and saw a group of policemen standing around saying "We got he! We got he!"

Residents yesterday praised the police for finally capturing the man they said had terrorized their lives.

"At last this area gon be in peace again," said a woman whose daughter had been kidnapped by Bovell.

The daughter told Stabroek News: "Is me heart desire [for Bovell to be caught] and all thanks to the police. I'm very, very happy." Tearfully, she continued: "He destroyed my lifeā€¦" Her relatives noticing her agitated state cautioned her against reliving any memories of the experience.

Meanwhile, a relative of Bovell told Stabroek News that she received the news of Bovell's death when someone called her and told her that he was dead. She said that she didn't know that he was in the village and couldn't say how long he had been around and wasn't really shocked that he was dead. Commenting on the general feeling by other residents that he deserved his death, she said that because of the many crimes she knew he had committed, they were right.

Bovell, a resident of the West Bank Demerara community had been running rings around the police since 2003 despite coming close to being caught several times. Notorious for abducting and raping young women in the West Bank Demerara communities, Bovell would emerge from his hiding place, attack women and then disappear again. Police last year had offered a $1 million reward for information on his whereabouts and had on more than one occasion last year destroyed camps in cane fields belonging to him.

Bovell was wanted for the murder of his reputed wife Philippa Harrison in September 2003 as well as for questioning in relation to the murder of Vernon Bernard whose house he torched, and for the abduction of Bernard's daughter.

Residents had said that they were living in fear of Bovell and many had curtailed their nightly outings because of the fear that he wrought.

Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon Bovell's brother Floyd was chopped by a man who he had a long-running feud with. Floyd Bovell, a painter, had to seek treatment at the West Demerara Regional Hospital for chop wounds sustained. His assailant also sustained chop wounds and sought treatment at the hospital.

Reign of terror

Neil Bovell's reign of terror started on December 21, 1992 when he chopped his 19-year-old girlfriend Shondell O'Brien to death at Stanleytown. In October 1995 Bovell was convicted of the offence and sentenced to death after a trial before a judge and jury. However, a retrial was ordered by the Appellate Court. On conclusion of his retrial in June 1998, Bovell was freed by the unanimous decision of a jury comprising six men and six women. This decision came after just under two hours of deliberation by the jury.

In the first week of September 2003, his 32-year-old reputed wife, Harrison who hailed from Canal Number Two Polder was found dead with her throat slit in an East Ruimveldt alleyway. Reports are that Harrison had endured years of abuse at the hands of Bovell as a result of which she moved to her sister's home at Lot 499 East Ruimveldt Housing Scheme in Georgetown.

On September 13, 2003 police issued a wanted bulletin for Bovell for the murder of Harrison. He was never apprehended. After this, he was also wanted in connection with the murder of Vernon Bernard and the kidnapping of his 22-year-old daughter in October 2003 in Stanleytown.

The closest Bovell came to being caught was during a high-speed chase in 2003. While the police were in hot pursuit of Bovell they shot and killed Eustace Small, a 70-year-old pensioner.

In January this year, the police gun-butted and repeatedly kicked a Victoria man who they had mistaken for Bovell.

Several months ago Bovell was believed to be a part of the Buxton/Agricola criminal gang and police suspected that he had participated in the attack on two families at Canal Number Two Polder.

Bovell was notorious for abducting and molesting young women in West Bank Demerara communities. He would emerge from his hiding place, attack women then disappear again. Despite the $1M reward offered and the various plans crafted, he continued to evade the police.

Harrison's father Patrick had undertaken a relentless campaign for the police to step up efforts to capture Bovell. His efforts included picketing exercises at the Ministry of Home Affairs.