Mistaken for a thief, and beaten to death
– Ardell Haynes’ family still hopes for justice, eight years later
By Michael Jordan
Ardell Haynes was no criminal…just a law-abiding loving father and skilled tradesman.
But 42-year-old Haynes was also fond of the bottle. That weakness led to a senseless and deadly confrontation almost eight years ago.
Back then, Ardell Haynes, an electrician, lived in South Ruimveldt with his wife and their ten-year-old daughter.
On Monday, December 8, 2008, two seemingly unrelated events happened. Ardell Haynes got drunk, and a petty thief broke into a woman’s home in East La Penitence.
Sometime in the wee hours of Tuesday 9, 2008, the phone rang at Ardell Haynes’ residence.
The caller identified herself as a policewoman and asked a relative who answered if she knew Mr. Haynes.
Yes, the relative said, and the policewoman told the relative that Mr. Haynes was at the East La Penitence Police Station.
The relative heard someone groaning in the background, and wanted to know why Mr. Haynes was at the station. The policewoman responded “I can’t tell you, I can’t tell you,” then hung up.
At around eleven o’clock on the night of December 8, 2008, Haynes’ reputed wife, Sherie Sydney, had tried unsuccessfully to contact the electrician on his cell phone. She surmised that he was out drinking with friends, since he seldom answered his phone when he was imbibing.
Next, a nephew attempted to reach Haynes on the electrician’s phone and got a disturbing response.
A man, who was definitely not his uncle, answered. In the background, the nephew reportedly heard someone shouting: “Yuh’all doan kill dat man.”
The man who had answered the phone reportedly tried to pass himself off as Ardell Haynes.
The nephew relayed this information to Haynes’ reputed wife, and at around three o’clock, a worried Sherie Sydney contacted ranks at the East La Penitence Police Station by telephone to enquire whether there had been reports of anyone who had been beaten.
No one answered, but when she rang her husband’s cellular phone, a man who identified himself as a police answered.
Mrs. Sydney was asked to redial the station’s number. A policewoman answered and told her
“they bring in a man and they say how is a thief.”
Mrs. Sydney, accompanied by two other relatives, went to the station. There they found a badly beaten and unresponsive Ardell Haynes lying in the station compound, while it rained.
Haynes was pronounced dead on arrival at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation.
No police rank reportedly accompanied the relatives to the hospital. Kaieteur News understands that Sydney was beaten by as many as a dozen people. His skull was fractured (he was reportedly struck on the head with hammer) and most of his internal organs were damaged.
What had happened was that at around two o’clock on Tuesday, December 9, a burglar had broken into the Pirai Square, East La Penitence home of a Mrs. Christine Canterbury.
The thief, who had entered through a window, was making off with the woman’s television set, when some residents saw him and raised an alarm.
The thief reportedly dropped the television set and fled through an alley, with a group of young men hot on his tracks.
Around that same time, an intoxicated Ardell Haynes was riding a borrow bicycle through the area. That was when a group of residents mistook him for ‘the thief’, even though the victim, Christine Canterbury, would later say that she could not recognize the burglar.
It is alleged that a woman in the mob struck him in the head with a hammer. A source close to the family alleged that some of Haynes’ assailants had been ‘smoking’ prior to the brutal assault.
The beating reportedly left Haynes unable to stand. His attackers then took him to the East La Penitence Police Station, where he was left to die in the compound.
The ranks reportedly failed to take statements, or the names of those who brought Haynes to the station.
However, a few days later, police arrested two East La Penitence men who were said to have been among the ‘vigilante group.’
On December 23, 2009, forty-eight-year-old Ordock Reid of 1969 Blue Mountain Road, Festival City and Keith Binns also called ‘Boogy’ of Lot A 76 East La Penitence, were charged with manslaughter.
The prosecutor objected to granting the accused men, on the grounds that the two might not return to court if their conditional freedom was granted
Acting Chief Magistrate Melissa Robertson ordered that the men be remanded.
But then years passed, and Ardell Hayne’s relative s aid they heard nothing more about the matter. Mrs. Haynes said that she was told that the case had been put over to the High Court. This suggested that there was enough evidence for the two accused to face a trial.
But last week, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutors (DPP) told Kaieteur News that the case had been “nolle prossed” since 2009.
Kaieteur News was unable to ascertain why the prosecution apparently indicated that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with the case against the two.
“I do not believe that anything can come out of the matter now,” an individual close to the slain man said yesterday.
“But we are still angry over his death, and still upset over the actions of the East La penitence police, who just left him in the rain.”
At the time, it was reported that the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) had launched an investigation into the alleged negligence and misconduct of the ranks who were on duty when Haynes was taken to the East La Penitence Police Station. It is unclear whether any rank was disciplined.