January 16 ,2021
The three men who are accused of killing Berbice cousins Isaiah and Joel Henry were yesterday charged with the teens’ murders.
Vinod Gopaul, called “Magga,” 30, of Yakusari North, Black Bush Polder, Corentyne, Berbice, Anil Sancharra, called ‘Dan Pole’ and ‘Rasta,’ 34, of D’Edward Village, West Coast Berbice (WCB) and his stepbrother, Akash Singh, called ‘Monkey,’ 20, of Zeelugt Squatting Area, East Bank Essequibo, appeared before Magistrate Peter Hugh, who read the charges to them in a city courtroom.
Gopaul and Sancharra were charged jointly with the murders, while Singh, who police say has implicated his co-accused in the crimes, was charged separately.
The three men were not allowed to plead to the capital charges and were remanded to prison until February 2nd, when the matters will be called again at the Blairmont Magistrate’s Court.
Before they were transported from the court, a vocal Gopaul proclaimed his innocence to reporters, while speaking through the grillwork of a holding cell.
The father of two he repeatedly claimed that he had never passed the Berbice River Bridge and that he was implicated in the crime by Singh, who he claimed was beaten by the police over the course of three days. He also alleged that he was beaten and robbed of his constitutional rights as a citizen.
He noted that he was first arrested for possession of a firearm and ammunition but after arriving at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) headquarters, he was told about a murder offence.
The man, who said he had been locked up since Sunday night, maintained that he had no knowledge about the murders.
Gopaul claimed that ranks placed Singh in front of a camera and forced him to falsely testify against him. Police, who have been under pressure to find the killers, have said Singh has given a statement implicating the other two men as having carried out the savage murders and then forcing him to also participate in chopping the youths or face a similar fate.
The mutilated bodies of Isaiah, 16, and Joel, 18, were found on September 6th, a day after they left home for the Cotton Tree backlands to pick coconuts.
After they did not return home, relatives lodged a report with the police and subsequently launched a search. It was while searching that the bodies of the teens were discovered, triggering a series of protests on the West Coast of Berbice.
Autopsies performed on the bodies of the teenagers showed that they both died from haemorrhaging and shock due to multiple wounds.
Police have said during questioning by ranks of the CID’s Major Crimes Unit, Singh confessed to his involvement in the crime and implicated the others.
Singh, according to a statement given to police, has said the destruction of marijuana that he and the other accused planted, was the motive behind the murders. The cousins were purportedly implicated in the destruction of the plants by another person.
Alleging that he was threatened with the same fate as the teens unless he also participated, Singh has said that he also chopped them. He further alleged that one of his accomplices marked an X on one of the teenagers’ foreheads and they ordered him to do the same to the other teen, which he did. After the chopping, he said, his accomplice placed the teenagers’ bodies on two horses that they had. He said he is unaware of what happened afterwards since he left the scene.
Based on the case file sent to her, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has advised that the trio be charged with the murders.
A number of persons, including the owner of a coconut estate and some who last saw the Henrys before their bodies were discovered, were previously arrested and questioned in relation to the crimes. However, they were subsequently released without being charged.
Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum has said the police are pursuing a number of other individuals.