The three men accused of the gruesome killings of Joel and Isaiah Henry, the two cousins whose mutilated bodies were discovered in the backlands of Cotton Tree, West Coast Berbice (WCB), last September, were on Friday arraigned for the heinous crimes.
The men – Akash Singh, 19, called “Monkey,” of Zeelugt, East Bank Essequibo (EBE); his stepbrother, 33-year-old Anil Sancharra, called “Dan pole” and “Rasta,” of D’Edward, WCB; and 34-year-old Vinod Gopaul called “Magga,” of Yakusari, Black Bush Polder, Corentyne, Berbice, made a virtual appearance before Magistrate Peter Hugh at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
Singh had to answer to two counts of murder – one for Isaiah and the other Joel. Sancharra and Gopaul, on the other hand, were charged jointly for the two murders. They were not required to plead to the indictable charges.
Police stated that the murders took place between September 5 and 6, 2020. The accused will make their next court appearance on February 2, 2021, at the Blairmont Magistrate’s Court.
During his appearance at the city court, Sancharra declared that he was innocent, stating that the Police only found him with marijuana.
Meanwhile, Gopaul said that one of his co-accused implicated him in the crime for which he protested his innocence. “And this brother calling my name; is not me…honestly to God.” He also denied knowing the Henry cousins.
However, the three men were escorted to the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts by ranks of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and upon exiting their respective vehicles, two of them shouted that they were wrongfully framed.
But after spending some time in the holding bay, they were taken back to the CID Headquarters. The reason is unknown. But at about 13:00h, the men were taken to the court for a second time – this time they were arraigned and remanded for the murders.
Again, as they left the holding bay and made their way to the vehicle, Gopaul and Sancharra held out that they are innocent and called on the Police to find the right persons.
Following months of investigation, the Guyana Police Force was able to crack the case with the arrest of the three men. Having obtained confessions, Police sent a file to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), which advised that the men be charged for murdering 16-year-old Isaiah and 19-year-old Joel.
Singh was arrested on Sunday last, after Police received information. The others were then taken into custody the following day. In addition to the video confession from Singh, the Police also obtained statements from two separate persons, including a relative to whom he had confessed to killing the “two boys” on separate occasions.
In the hour-long confession video, Singh told the Police that he had accompanied Gopaul and Sancharra to the West Coast Berbice backlands sometime in August 2020 to cultivate cannabis.
They then left the area and returned in September, but when they arrived at the farm, it was destroyed – everything was sprayed with gramoxone – a chemical herbicide.
According to Singh, Gopaul and Sancharra declared that they would chop up whoever destroyed their ganja farm. They then went to the individual who gave them the ganja plants, but on their way, they met the man’s worker who said their ganja was also destroyed and weeds stolen, and started to assault them.
The three murder accused related that their farm was also destroyed. At that point, Singh said, the man told them that two “wicked black boys” does go in the backdam and destroy their “things”, and eat out their foods. Singh said that he heard Sancharra and Gopaul plotting about what they would do to whoever destroyed their farm.
Singh told investigators that he saw Gopaul and Sancharra with two boys, and gave descriptions matching the Henry cousins. Singh said at that point the “tall one” get up and Gopaul dealt him a chop to the neck with a cutlass and he started to bleed.
He recounted that Sancharra then dealt the other cousin a chop to his neck also. He related that the two men kept firing chops about the bodies of the two young boys. Singh related that after his accomplice threatened to kill him, he also took a cutlass and started chopping at the two teens, and he marked an “X” on the forehead of one of the boys while Sancharra did the same to the other boy.
He then told the Police that Sancharra and Gopaul left the camp with the bodies on a horseback, while he stayed back at the camp. This is consistent with initial Police findings that the area where the bodies of the teenagers were found was not the prime crime scene, but they were merely dumped there.
After his confession, Singh took investigators to the camp, and he pointed out where the murders took place. The case was handled by ranks of the Police Force’s Major Crimes Unit. During the investigation, Police had arrested and questioned over a dozen persons.
A post-mortem report revealed that the cousins died as a result of haemorrhage and shock due to multiple incised injuries; their spines were also severed. Following the killings, massive protests erupted across the country, especially in West Coast Berbice where the two young men resided.
Days later, 17-year-old Haresh Singh was found murdered in Cotton Tree. His death is believed to have been a retaliation to the murders of the Henry boys since it was reported that he was a relative of one of the men who was initially arrested for questioning into the murder.
Now that the Police have charged three persons, detectives are expected to carry out further investigations to determine the veracity of the claims made by Singh. In addition, they are to hunt and arrest another suspect who was implicated during the confession.