Sheriff St assault By Iana Seales
Stabroek News
April 4, 2007

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Family returns to club to confirm they were there -lawyer says incident happened outside so club can't be held responsible

The family of four who were assaulted, robbed and stripped outside a Sheriff Street nightclub just over a week ago returned to the club in question a few days ago to confirm that they were there.

Since the incident the owner of the Sheriff Nightclub has denied the family was ever in that club and is holding firm to that story but the family is maintaining they were there.

Accompanied by Co-President of the Guyana Human Rights Association, Mike McCormack two of the females went back to the Sheriff Bar and described the layout of the place to him before he sought permission to look inside and was granted the opportunity. According to him, the women's description was precise.

McCormack, whose organisation had condemned the attack on the family and also called for a suspension of the licences of night clubs in the vicinity, said the women accurately described the Sheriff Nightclub and were able to point out where they were seated and where the initial altercation between them and the group of men occurred.

"Clearly they recognised the place and pointed out the table where they were and even where the assault took place outside the club. They recalled where the taxi was as well," McCormack said.

But there were two discrepancies. He said the women recalled paying an entrance fee to a female and the Sheriff Nightclub is saying there are no women working the doors at the club. Additionally the family said they were stamped on their hands upon entering the club and the Sheriff said no such procedure is in place at their nightspot.

McCormack, however, noted that the discrepancies are nothing to shake the central story which is that they were assaulted, robbed and stripped outside a nightclub. He said the women's story is solid and they seem certain where they were that night.

Since there has been a denial on the part of the Sheriff Nightclub, McCormack checked at least two other nightspots in the immediate area. Based on the description the women gave, he said, neither matched.

On Friday last the GHRA held a one-hour vigil on Sheriff Street in condemnation of what had happened to the family. A number of organisations also joined in.

In a statement sent to Stabroek News yesterday, management of the Sheriff Nightclub said it is shocked and amazed at what seems to be a concerted effort to target its bar and facility to link them to a recent assault and attack upon an Amerindian family on Sheriff Street.

The management said it condemns any attack on a person or persons and in particular the said attack which was allegedly carried out on Sunday, March 25.

"This dastardly act whereby a family was pounced upon by a group of irate men or persons and assaulted physically and sexually, all stemming from a spilt drink is worthy of the highest condemnation and reproach...the management wishes to indicate categorically that if any of its patrons should complain of being assaulted while on its premises it has security personnel to deal with such issues," the statement said.

The nightclub maintained that it never received any information about an assault of any patron on Sunday last, and learned of the incident after reading it in the newspapers.

Leslie Sobers, attorney for the nightclub, said the family was at the nightclub last week with McCormack but his understanding is that the family seemed confused about which club they had been to on the night of the incident.

Sobers said Sheriff Nightclub does not feel in any way responsible since the people were not in their club. He said that even if they were, the incident happened outside and he cannot see how the nightclub could be responsible.

"When a customer leaves the bank after withdrawing money and is attacked and robbed outside, the bank is not responsible. How more different is a nightclub?" Sobers asked.

He said the family needs to remember exactly where they were because it was not at the Sheriff. Additionally, he asked why the family had a minor in their midst that night and it was so late.

No one has been arrested yet in connection with the incident but the police say they are aggressively looking for the perpetrators. The police issued a release on Sunday asking any person who had witnessed the incident and knows the whereabouts of any of the perpetrators to contact them.

The police responded to criticisms that they did not have a presence on Sheriff Street just before the start of the first World Cup match in Guyana, saying they have a dedicated patrol on Sheriff Street but it had missed the incident that night because it happened quickly.

According to the family, they had just left the Sheriff Street nightspot and had boarded a taxi when the gang descended on them and in full view of the public assaulted, beat and robbed them before walking calmly away. Minutes before that occurred the lone male in the group had accidentally spilled a drink on a group of men sitting nearby and the men demanded that he should replace it with extra drinks. He refused to buy extra drinks.

When the family left the nightclub the men followed them outside and pulled them out of a taxi. They pulled guns, broke a bottle, stabbed the male in the group and assaulted two of the women in addition to robbing them.