Deadly Mahdia dorm fire: 15-year-old remanded on 19 murder charges
A 15-year-old girl has appeared in court after allegedly torching the Mahdia Secondary School girls’ dormitory which resulted in the death of 19 children—18 girls and a five-year-old boy.
The young girl appeared virtually before Senior Magistrate Sunil Scarce at the Diamond/Golden Grove Magistrates’ Courts and she was not required to plea to the 19 murder charges.
She was charged for the murders of Tracil Thomas; Lisa Roberts; Delicia Edwards; Lorita Williams; Natalie Bellarmine; Arriana Edwards; Cleoma Simon; Subrina John; Martha Dandrade; Loreen Evans; Belnisa Evans; Mary Dandrade; Omerfia Edwin; Nickleen Robinson; Sherina Daniels; Eulander Carter; Andrea Roberts; Bibi Rita Jeffrey, and five-year-old Adanye Jerome.
Magistrate Scarce ordered that she be held at a juvenile holding centre until July 4, when the matters will be called for disclosure of statements.
The juvenile was represented by lawyers from the law firm, Dexter Todd and Associates.
The May 21, 2023 inferno killed 18 female students between the ages of 12 and 17 and a five-year-old boy, who was the son of the dorm parents.
Days following the horrific incident, the Guyana Police Force (GPF) disclosed that the fire was allegedly started by the 15-year-old student, who also lived at the dorm, after her cellular phone was taken away by the dorm’s mother and a teacher.
Initial information received from sources close to the investigation had revealed that the teen in question was reportedly previously suspended for engaging in activities contrary to the rules of the institution and was involved in an argument with the administrators during which she allegedly threatened to cause “trouble.”
The Mahdia school’s dormitory housed students from the communities of Karisparu, El Paso, Micobie, and Chenapao, Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni).
The fire was allegedly set in the bathroom area of the dormitory. According to the surviving female students, they were asleep and were awakened by screams.
Upon checking, they saw fire and smoke in the bathroom area, which quickly spread in the building, causing several students to receive burns to their bodies and smoke inhalation, whilst several managed to escape. Several of the injured students were air-dashed to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) for treatment. On May 27, a 13-year-old girl was flown to the Northwell Health Burn Care Centre in New York to seek advanced medical care.
According to the Guyana Fire Service (GFS), the dormitory housed 59 students. At the time of the fire, there were 56 females and a five-year-old boy inside.
The remaining students had gone home for the weekend. The dormitory’s 26 windows were heavily grilled and the five doors were locked with keys when the fire broke out.
President Dr Irfaan Ali has announced that a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) will be conducted into the deadly blaze. He also announced that the victims’ families will be compensated by the State. (G1)