A 41-year-old man of East Ruimveldt Housing Scheme, Georgetown, who had been on trial for the capital offence of murder, was acquitted on Monday as a result of the trial Judge directing the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty.
Before Justice Sandil Kissoon at the Demerara High Court, Calvin Johnson, otherwise known as “Gun Butt”, was arraigned for murder in relation to the death of Paul Rodney, who was shot and killed on November 21, 2016. After Johnson pleaded not guilty to the charge, his trial commenced, during which state prosecutors called several witnesses, inclusive of Police officers and a pathologist.
However, at the close of the prosecution’s case, Justice Kissoon concluded that the elements of the offence were not proven beyond a reasonable doubt. As such, he directed the jurors to return a formal verdict of not guilty in Johnson’s favour, thereby freeing the accused.
Last week, 29-year-old Joshua Meredith, formerly of East Ruimveldt, Georgetown, was sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after serving a minimum of 20 years after pleading guilty to unlawfully killing Rodney.
He had initially pleaded not guilty to a murder charge, resulting in a jury being empanelled to hear the evidence and to determine whether he was innocent or guilty. However, as the trial progressed, Meredith opted to plead guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter. As such, the trial Judge directed the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty on the murder charge, and a formal verdict of guilty of manslaughter.
At Meredith’s sentencing hearing last week Wednesday, Justice Jo-Ann Barlow explained that she accepted his guilty plea because provocation was established from the evidence.
It was reported that Rodney, of West Ruimveldt, Georgetown, and a group of men were involved in an argument at Avocado Avenue in West Ruimveldt. The argument escalated into a fight, during which Rodney attempted to escape, but was pursued and shot several times about his body. His killer(s) escaped on a CG motorcycle.
Police Headquarters, in a statement on the killing, had stated that ranks were on a mobile patrol when they heard several explosions, and they went to investigate. They came upon a group of men running, during which several more gunshots were fired. Rodney was subsequently found lying motionless on the ground, covered in blood.
In December 2020, Meredith was given a 15-year jail sentence for manslaughter in relation to the death of Charlestown, Georgetown resident Gregory Garraway, who was shot during a robbery. He was indicted for murder, but elected to plead guilty to the lesser offence.
On October 2, 2016, Garraway, 21, who had gone to “Wings and Things” Bar at Mandela Avenue, Georgetown to purchase food, was wearing two gold chains around his neck. After placing his order, he left the bar. When he returned, as he was crossing the street to pick up the food, Meredith snatched his chains, pulled a gun from his pocket, and discharged a round in Garraway’s direction, killing him.
A post-mortem examination performed on Garraway’s body revealed that he had sustained gunshot wounds to his abdomen, and died as a result of septic shock.
Meredith was subsequently pointed out at an identification parade by the late Garraway’s brother, who was present at the time of the shooting. The Home Affairs Minister has granted him remission for about 80 days on the 15-year prison term.
In 2009, when he was just 15, Meredith dropped out of school and travelled to neighbouring Suriname, where he admitted to being involved in criminal activities. That same year, he was charged and placed before the courts for robbery. He was convicted of the offence, but owing to his tender age, the Magistrate fined him $20,000 and placed him on a bond to keep the peace for two years.
Residents in the East Ruimveldt community where Meredith lived had mixed reactions about him. While some said he was a very jovial and helpful young man, others described him as a “notorious criminal.”
Reports from the prison revealed that Meredith is a very disrespectful and disorderly inmate. As a result of his attitude, prison officers were forced to place him in solitary confinement.
There were a few positive reports about him from the prison, including his willingness to attend anger management and rehabilitation programmes. Moreover, a probation report in his favour disclosed that he was unable to have a good childhood due to several circumstances, including abandonment by his father.
Meanwhile, Johnson was previously charged with several counts of robbery under arms following an attack on two moneychangers.
The two counts read that on November 3, 2015, at America Street Georgetown, while being armed with a gun, he robbed Rayburn Fraser of a quantity of local and foreign currencies totalling $1,600,000; and Osafo Ward of a quantity of Guyana and US currency valued at $540,000.
This publication is, however, unaware of the legal status of these matters.