Sheriff Street assaults
Police say trying to contact perpetrators
Stabroek News
April 2, 2007

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The Guyana Police Force yesterday announced that they were attempting to contact the alleged perpetrators who beat, robbed and indecently assaulted a group of five persons last week Monday morning in front of the Sheriff Night Club on Sheriff Street, but their efforts so far have proved futile.

The police announcement comes after widespread condemnation of the incident and the mounting of a vigil on Sheriff Street by the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) and other groups. The GHRA had initially called for the suspension of the Sheriff Night Club's licence, but after the owner Rajpattie Bacchus denied that the family were ever in her club based on the reports she had received from her security personnel, the organisations called for the suspension of the licences of all the night clubs on Sheriff Street.

The GHRA expressed particular concern that not a single person had gone to the assistance of the family and that a taxi driver had refused to take them to the hospital until he was paid. Payment was made via a pair of earrings worn by one of the women. The organisation said that it believed the incident occurred because the family was Amerindian.

The police in a release yesterday said that they had conducted "diligent investigations" and had taken several statements from the victims. Their investigations had revealed two males and three females of Amerindian descent who reside in the city said that they had consumed alcohol at the Sheriff Night Club and while leaving, water was spilled on the shoes of a young man. This resulted in an altercation.

The release went on to say that the victims then joined a taxi but before the car moved off they were pounced upon by eight to ten men, one of whom was armed with a handgun and two of whom had knives.

"The men assaulted them and during the incident [a man] was cut on his face. One female Amerin-dian was robbed of a gold chain, a silver chain and two earrings. Another female was robbed of $6,000.00 dollars and the wounded male was robbed of $100,000," the release said.

"The men also indecently assaulted the males and females. During the robbery the men pushed their hands into their crotches, apparently searching for more money and during which the underwear of one of the females got torn."

According to the release the victims then joined another taxi and left the scene and made a report at the Kitty Police Station, following which they left for the Georgetown Public Hospital where they were treated and sent away. Medical reports were also issued.

"Efforts to contact the perpetrators several of whom could be identified have proved futile," the release said.

The police are asking any person who witnessed the incident and knows the whereabouts of any of the perpetrators to contact the police on telephone numbers; 911, 225-6411, 227-1149, 226-6978, 225-3650, 226-7065 or 226-2417.

And in response to criticisms of them not having a presence on Sheriff Street just before the start of the first World Cup match in Guyana, the police said that over the last month, several raids had been carried out on Sheriff Street and persons found loitering and in possession of offensive weapons had been charged and placed before the courts. The statement went on to say that as recently as last Saturday raids had been carried out and eight persons arrested.

"There is at least one dedicated patrol on Sheriff Street and several other sporadic patrols as the police in recognition of entertainment on Sheriff Street and the many visitors since Rio, has intensified their presence in the area."

The release stated that on the night in question, there was a dedicated patrol on Sheriff Street but the incident under focus occurred rather quickly and the patrol was not made aware of it until some time after.

The family are adamant that it was Sheriff Night Club but had told Stabroek News that it was only four of them, two sisters, their mother and one of the sister's husband who before the assault had accidentally spilled a drink on a group of men sitting nearby and the men demanded that he replace it and buy extra drinks.

He refused to buy the extra drinks. They told Stabroek News when they left the nightclub and boarded the taxi they were pulled out of the car, robbed and assaulted. They said that many persons were on Sheriff Street at the time but no one rendered assistance.