Convicted murderer, rapist referred to as menace by villagers
Thirty-two-year-old Hillary Edwards of Sisters Village, East Bank Berbice, who was given a life sentence by Justice Simone Morris-Ramlall for raping and killing 13-year-old Leonard Archibald back in 2017, is being referred to as a menace by villagers.
Following the sentence, Guyana Times travelled to the village to get the reaction of the residents who had reported several incidents to the Police without any follow-up.
Patrick Bennett, an uncle of the convicted man who is also a cousin of the dead teen related that Edwards deserved the sentence handed down by the Judge.
He was described as a paedophile by Justice Ramlall who harass and forced to have sexual intercourse with boys between the 5 and 16 years-old.
He was found guilty on Thursday last at the Berbice High Court for murdering Archibald in September 2017. The teen had disappeared for almost one week but his decomposed body was subsequently found with his hands and feet bound.
It was reported that Edwards had sexually molested the lad until he lost consciousness after which he bound his hands and feet together and threw him into the Berbice River. Further, he threw the lad’s bicycle into the river to hide evidence that the teen had visited his home.
However, back then, two of the lad’s sisters had reported that their brother informed them that he was going to the man’s home to run an errand for him.
During the time that Archibald was missing, residents had accused Henry of having something to do with the child’s disappearance.
Back in 2017 when the accusations were made against the now convicted rapist and murderer, the Police had stated that there were no reports of such lodged at the Police station.
However, during the trial, Probation and Welfare Officer Maisie Shepherd told the court that prior to September 2017, several reports were lodged at the Sisters Police Station of the man’s behaviour and sexual advances toward boys.
She highlighted several instances including one that involved two young boys who were threatened by the accused. In one case, she told the court the accused lured two teenagers into the backdam to fish.
One of the boys reported that upon their arrival in the backlands, Edwards aggressively bullied him to have sexual intercourse. Their reluctance led to one of them being severely beaten, thus leaving him unconscious.
When he regained consciousness, he found himself tied with a rope to a tree. Edwards was heard saying that he was going to “kill him and bury him”.
However, he was able to escape but was subsequently hospitalised suffering from a broken jaw and ribs.
In another instance, the probation officer told the court that Edwards took another teen into the backdam and bullied and threatened him with a cutlass, stating that they must have sexual intercourse. That teen was also able to escape.
She also disclosed that in one instance, Edwards had sex with a 5-year-old boy in the presence of his mother.
In light of the accusations and sentencing, residents said they are happy that Edwards has been put away for a long time.
Bennett related that he believes the accusations levelled against his nephew. “He is a wicked chap,” the uncle said of his convicted nephew.
Meanwhile, Peter Christopher, who owns the home where the incident took place in 2017, stated that he and the dead teen’s parents are happy with the outcome of the case.
“Not because justice was serviced it means that that they will get back their child in their home; his absence is in that home is forever. I am happy with what finally came out of this terrible nonsense.”
Archibald was killed as his parents waited on him to return home to partake in the celebration of his father’s birthday during dinner.
Asra Ally, who lives two houses away from where the incident took place, was also elated with the ruling but noted that she was expecting a harsher penalty. She wanted the death sentence.
Yet another villager, Sohan Ragnauth, told this publication that his nephew was stabbed several times by Edwards and had to be hospitalised.
In that instance, he related, Edwards jumped through the window and stabbed the teenager. However, the young boy was able to jump through another window and escape. Very early the following morning Edwards returned to the scene to retrieve the knife.
“When he collect the knife, he said ‘Oh God, if I had seen the person that did this, I would kill them’ and this time is he who committed the act.”
In making reference to the sentence, Ragnauth said Edwards should have had his life taken away from him.
“A lot of people missing here; a young girl missing, a big man missing and we never find them.” (Andrew Carmichael)