– 4 still on the run
Just over a week after escaping from the Camp Street Penitentiary, murder accused Cornelius Thomas was on Monday recaptured while hiding out in “C” Field Sophia, Greater Georgetown.
His arrest was initiated by information relayed to members of the Guyana Police Force, who swooped down on an area in the community and effected the arrest at about 15:30h. Information remains limited, but Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum has confirmed that the man was arrested and is being interrogated by members of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) on the whereabouts of the remaining four escapees.
Last Friday evening, escapee Desmond James, 24, was recaptured in an abandoned shack at Canal No. 1 Polder, West Bank Demerara.
Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan has called on the remaining prison escapees to turn themselves in to law enforcement authorities. “It’s going to be rough out there. Get out and give yourself up. You’re not going to win against the state. Absolutely not!” he declared.
Minister Ramjattan also urged that the families of the escapees do their civic duty. “If you’ve got any information, please come forward and help the police. It is to ensure the stability and security of our country that we capture them as early as possible. These pieces of information that you have will be held in the highest of confidentiality. Please don’t be afraid to come forward and help,” he admonished.
Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuels, has issued a stern warning to potentially errant ranks. Noting that strict measures are in place to check all persons entering prohibited areas, he said, “This is a moment for you to reconsider, because if you’re caught, my recommendation will be guided by the Prison Act. More than likely, it will see the (harshest) punishment being recommended.”
The Guyana Police Force is supporting the efforts of the Guyana Prison Service to sanitize the prison and ensure that all prisoners are safe. Assistant Police Commissioner Clifton Hicken has said, “We will continue to work with the Joint Services to ensure that normalcy prevails.” The Guyana Defence Force is also supporting the civil authority. Ranks on the ground are being commanded by Lt Colonel Ramkarran Doodnauth, who explained that the GDF is also in support of the efforts being made to recapture those on the run from custody. The Guyana Fire Service also has a support unit on standby.
Efforts are continuing to have the Brick Prison at Camp Street prepared to accommodate 250 prisoners, and 100 more will be housed in another section. Prisoners who are within one month of completing their sentences’, and those remanded for bailable offences are being released, as recommended by prison authorities.
Approximately 300 prisoners at the Lusignan facility were moved to the recently constructed tarmacked area of the compound by 18:00h on Monday. The remainder of prisoners held in the walled open area are expected to be sanitised and moved to the same holding facility by this afternoon, according to Prison Director Gladwin Samuels.
Now that two of the six men who are wanted by the police have been recaptured, the hunt continues for the alleged mastermind of the prison breakout: Mark Royden Durant, called “Royden Williams” and “Smallie”; ex-cop Uree Varswyck, Stafrei Hopkinson Alexander, and Cobena Stephens.
These men have all been charged for the capital offence of murder.