prisoners died early yesterday morning after a fight broke out
in the capital offence dormitory of the Georgetown Prisons,
leaving relatives of the men in shock and questioning how prison
authorities allowed the situation to turn deadly.
are double-murder accused Solomon Blackman and Essequibo resident
Dyal Singh, who arrived at the Georgetown Hospital mortally
wounded. Blackman attacked Singh and was afterward set upon by
other prisoners. The two men were pronounced dead on arrival at
around 3:45 am.
40, an ex policeman, went berserk at the Brickdam Police Station
on March 1, 2004, and allegedly killed Deputy Superintendent
Richard Griffith and Lance Corporal Ramnarine Latchana while
wounding two more; Singh, 49, was an Essequibo resident was
charged with murdering speedboat operator Stanley Bovell, whom he
is accused of fatally stabbing on October 16, 2007 at Supenaam
after a row over a borrowed knife.
June, Singh was committed to stand trial in the High Court by
Magistrate Faith McGusty at the Suddie Magistrates’ Court and it
was scheduled to begin next month. Meanwhile Blackman, of Mocha
Arcadia, was deemed to be of unsound mind and in light of
yesterday’s incident questions were raised as to why he wasn’t
kept in the area designated for such prisoners.
a statement last evening, the Home Affairs Ministry explained that
due to persistent medical treatment, Blackman showed some
improvement. As a result, he was removed from the Social Division
and allowed to live and mix with the general population. The
Ministry described the incident as “most unfortunate” and all
assured that the security at the prison was stable.
reports, according to the statement, revealed that at
approximately 2:10 am, the officers on-duty responded to unusual
sounds emanating from the capital dormitory. It sounded as if some
one was tampering with the lock. The dormitory houses remanded
prisoners. After investigating, officers in the prison yard were
alerted by a loud noise in the same division, where a prisoner was
shouting that Blackman had assaulted another inmate-Singh. On
returning to the dormitory, the ranks observed Blackman
“striking” Singh, who was lying on a mattress. The other
prisoners became infuriated and began to attack Blackman severely
sirens were sounded and police, fire department and senior prison
officers were informed.
to the statement, they responded immediately and went to the
division, where the two injured prisoners were taken out at
approximately 2:40am and taken to the Georgetown Hospital, where
they were pronounced dead by the doctor on duty an hour later.
“The Ministry of Home Affairs regrets the occurrence of this
incident and expresses its deepest sympathy to the family and
relatives of the two prisoners,” the statement added.
police, meanwhile, reported the start of investigations, while
saying Blackman attacked Singh with a piece of wood and lashed him
about the body. As a consequence, a number of other prisoners
attacked Blackman, during which he received injuries about his
body. The release did not say what was used to inflict the
there were many unanswered questions and concerns and despite
numerous efforts by this newspaper, Director of Prisons Dale
Erskine could not be reached. Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee
when contacted yesterday afternoon said that he was still
receiving information and could not comment at the time.
neither the police nor the Home Affairs Ministry made mention of
at least one sharp implement being used in the incident, sources
close to the prisons and the hospital said that Singh had been
stabbed multiple times about the body. Two of the man’s
relatives, who saw the body, also reported seeing stab wounds.
From all reports, Blackman was the victim of a severe beating with
pieces of wood.
the inmates came in possession of wood and, in the case of
Blackman what is believed to be a sharp implement, is unclear. The
issue has been a problem for prison officials over the years and
they have been unable to remedy it. It has also not been explained
what delayed the responding officers from entering the dorm, after
witnessing Blackman being beaten or what may have sparked the
wife, Shelochanie, was close to tears while speaking with Stabroek
News. The woman recalled that at around 2:40 am she received a
call from a prisoner informing her that her husband had been
killed. The woman said that the message left her in shock and she
almost immediately started making plans to travel to the city.
to her, she saw the body at the Georgetown Hospital mortuary and
it was badly swollen and covered in blood. The woman said that
given the condition of the body, she did not check to see if there
were any wounds.
the man’s brother told the media outside the hospital that “he
get lash up and he body get bore up” before questioning where
the prison wardens were at the time of the incident.
this coulda happen? Like he get beat with wood. Where they get
that from?” the visibly upset man said.
Shelochanie was adamant that she will get no justice for the death
of her husband but nevertheless pleaded for some sort of action to
be taken against the prison officers who were on-duty at the time.
woman said that a prison official made contact with her home in
Supernaam hours after the incident but she had already travelled
to Georgetown. She said that she spoke with the officer in charge
at the Georgetown Prisons and he told her that her husband was
asleep when an inmate came and dealt him some lashes. The officer
said too that other prisoners who were there at the time
retaliated by beating the man.
woman expressed concern that prison officers failed to rescue her
husband while he was being attacked and Singh’s brother said
that there appears to be more to the story than they are being
to Shelochanie, Singh was a father figure to many inmates and when
she saw him on Monday, he showed off some of his friends to her.
Maurice Bovell, the brother of Stanley Bovell, the man Singh was
accused of murdering, when contacted in Supernaam yesterday said
that he was upset since the matter was almost completed. “We
wanted him to go to court and let there be a fair trail…. Now we
will have to leave everything to God,” Bovell said, adding that
Singh was his neighbour and before the incident there was never a
for Blackman, it was an eviction from his Benn Street,
Wortmanville home that triggering his rampage on the Brickdam
Police Station on March 1, 2004. The man, after getting wind of
his eviction, went to the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court and,
after not receiving any satisfaction, he went to the station.
at the station, Blackman suddenly attacked Constable Kesier
Cosbert who was the compound sentry and lashed him in the head
with a bottle. Cosbert fell and Blackman snatched his firearm from
his holster and shot him in his right leg. He subsequently shot
and killed Assistant Superintendent Richard Griffith and Lance
Corporal Ramnarine Latchana. Corporal Clifton Nelson was also
injured in the attack.
was eventually confronted by a policeman who shot him in the leg.
the shooting, Blackman’s father, Colin, explained that his son
had a history of violence and this became worse when he entered
the force. Blackman was a former member of the Tactical Services
broke his father’s hand in 1996 after he was put out of their
house in Mocha.
man, who has since passed away, also denied that his son was
mentally ill, saying that in late 1996 he had taken him to a
psychiatrist for an examination and he was declared mentally fit
Blackman’s brother, Samuel, when contacted was unaware that his
brother was dead and was in disbelief when told by this newspaper.
The man was too distraught to speak and he was very unhappy that
no one from the prison service informed him of the incident.