With the recent sentencing to death by hanging of 29-year-old Imran Ramsaywack, the number of persons now sitting on death row has moved to 11, according to information obtained from the Guyana Prison Service. Those on death row have all been convicted of murder.
They are mass killers Dennis Williams and Mark Williams; Burt Lancaster, Rupert Brown, Sherwin Hart, Devon Gordan, Deon Greenidge, Cyon Collier, Davanand Tilacknauth, Kenrick Lyte and Imran Ramsaywack.
The death penalty is provided for under Section 100 of the Criminal Law (Offences) Act Cap 8:01 (amended 21 of 2010), which states: “Everyone who commits murder shall be guilty of a felony and liable to death as a felon.”
There is currently a moratorium in place on the death penalty. Guyana has not carried out any execution since 1997. In the meantime, international pressure has been mounting for Guyana to abolish the death penalty. This very issue came up in January when Guyana presented its report to the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) 35th session held in Geneva, Switzerland.
But at the time, the former APNU/AFC Government said that it was not in a haste to do so as it wants citizens to have a say. In fact, in its report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the previous Administration indicated its willingness to have a referendum or other consultative processes to ascertain the will of its citizens on the matter.
Dennis Williams and Mark Williams
Mark “Smallie” Williams and Dennis “Anaconda” Williams have both been sentenced to death by hanging for eight and seven counts of murder respectively, in relation to the Bartica Massacre. In addition, they were each sentenced to life imprisonment for four and five counts of manslaughter respectively, in relation to the said massacre.
On February 17, 2008, a number of gunmen attacked the mining community of Bartica, Region Seven, killing 12 residents and injuring several others. The group of about 20 gunmen arrived at Bartica by speedboat. They landed at the Transport and Harbours wharf around 10 pm.
Upon arrival, they attacked the Bartica Police Station, killing Lance Corporal Zaheer Zakir, Constable Shane Fredericks and Constable Ron Osbornes. The gang then stole cash, arms, ammunition and a vehicle from the police station. Using the stolen police vehicle, they drove through the streets of Bartica, shooting at civilians, fatally wounding Irwin Gilkes.
They then proceeded to CBR Mining, where they killed Irving Ferreira. Next, they shot and killed Dexter Adrian before returning to the wharf. While at the wharf, they executed Abdool Yassin Jr, Deonarine Singh, Errol Thomas, Ronald Gomes, Baldeo Singh and Ashraf Khan.
In 2012, Burt Lancaster was found guilty of the murder of taxi driver Deonarine Sookdeo. According to reports, Sookdeo died between April 19 and 26, 2006. It is reported that Lancaster, called “Moses”, and his co-worker Daywan Kawal called “Avinash”, left work around midday on April 19, 2006, and went to Diamond, East Bank Demerara, where they hired a taxi to go to Soesdyke, East Bank Demerara.
While on their way, the driver of the vehicle, Deonarine Sookdeo, stopped at a gas station. It was then that the workmates allegedly decided to rob the taxi driver. They reportedly asked the driver to take them up a trail in Kuru Kuru. Once on the trail, they reportedly used a weapon to inflict injuries on Deonarine Sookdeo. His badly decomposed body was found in the area.
Sherwin Hart, Deon Greenidge and Devon Gordon
In 2013, former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Coast Guards, Sherwin Hart, Devon Gordon and Deon Greenidge were sentenced to death for the August 2009 murder of Bartica gold miner Dwieve Kant Ramdass. The prosecution’s case is that on August 20, 2009, at Caiman Hole in the Essequibo River, they forced Ramdass into their boat and took him to the aforementioned location where they relieved him of $17 million in cash he was carrying in a box to Bartica for his employer, before dumping him overboard.
In October 2014, Rupert Brown was sentenced to death for the May 29, 2011 murder of his common-law wife, Seema Singh. The mother of two was murdered at Helena Number One Village, Mahaica, East Coast Demerara. According to reports, Singh, who hailed from Richmond, Essequibo Coast, was stabbed multiple times about her body.
According to reports, Brown became enraged after she left their Mahaica residence to visit her children in Essequibo. The woman had promised to return within a certain time but when she did not, Brown went in search of her. The man eventually caught up with his wife at a relative’s house in Mahaica, where she had sought refuge. Brown, in a fit of rage, stabbed her several times about her body.
Kenrick Lyte of Good Intent, Lower Pomeroon River, Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) is currently on death row for the murder of 72-year-old Osmond Fiedtkou.
The incident took place at Groete Creek, Essequibo River, between July 9 and 13, 2014. According to the prosecution’s case, Lyte and the pensioner were alone in a boat when an argument ensued over monies owed to the pensioner by Lyte. It was contended that Lyte took a shotgun that was inside the boat and shot the pensioner to his chest then threw away the gun and sunk the boat.
Imran Ramsaywack of Berbice was sentenced to death for the murder of US-based Guyanese businesswoman, Samantha Benjamin, which occurred between March 25 and 26, 2015.
Ramsaywack was found guilty by a jury of murdering Benjamin at her Middle Walk, Buxton home. The woman’s dismembered body was discovered in the Atlantic Ocean along the Annandale foreshore, East Coast Demerara, where it was found that her head, arms and legs were missing. Benjamin’s body parts were later pulled from the water after a search conducted by the police.
Cyon Collier called “Picture Boy”, who was indicted for the 2006 double murder of the two brothers, Ray Walcott, called “Sugar” and Carl Andrews, called “Alo”, was sentenced to execution by hanging when a jury returned with a guilty verdict.
On the dreadful day that the 31- and 34-year-old men lost their lives, Collier rode up on a motorcycle, stopping where the two men and a group were playing dominoes. He chatted with the group for some time after which he pulled out a gun and started shooting at them. Both of the men were injured, with Andrews sustaining at least three gunshot wounds.