Linden trio arraigned for setting GECOM Linden Office on fire in 2020
− alleged “intellectual author” arrested
Three men were on Friday remanded to prison after being charged for setting fire to the Guyana Election Commission (GECOM) Office in Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice), last July reportedly over the non-swearing in of the then presidential candidate of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC), David Granger, as President of Guyana.
Teon February called “Nut”, a 23-year-old porter of Canvas City, Wismar, Linden; 21-year-old Marlon Hunter called “Bushy”, a welder and car wash worker of Silver Town, Wismar; and Bryon Kendell called “Murgie”, 48, a contractor and carwash owner of Kara Kara, Linden, were arraigned virtually before Magistrate Wanda Fortune at the Linden Magistrate’s Court.
The trio was not required to plead to the joint charge which alleged that on July 14, 2020, they unlawfully and maliciously set fire to the GECOM Registration Office at Burnham Drive, Wismar, Linden.
Prior to the joint arraignment, February was slapped with several other serious offences including possession of unlicensed firearm and ammunition, break and enter and larceny, simple larceny and burglary.
Hunter was the lone accused represented by a lawyer during Friday’s arraignment. His attorney, Yondessa Welcome-Mercurius, made a bail application, arguing that this is a bailable offence and that her client poses no flight risk.
However, Police Prosecutor Adduni Inniss pointed out to the court that while the offence is a bailable one, its seriousness and the fact that a public building with records was destroyed should be taken into account. The court was also informed that Police in Linden are expected to institute break and enter and larceny charges against Hunter and February in the new week.
Despite counter arguments by Attorney Welcome-Mercurius, Magistrate Fortune went ahead to refuse bail for all three accused and remanded them to prison until July 30.
February and Hunter are cousins and were arrested on Monday after Police received information. The 23-year-old subsequently confessed during interrogation on Wednesday that he and his younger cousin were paid $150,000 by Kendell, the alleged mastermind, to torch the building.
In a statement to the Police, February claimed that he was contacted on the night of July 13, 2020, by Kendell, who told him that he wanted him to burn down the GECOM building. As such, he contacted his cousin, “Bushy” and informed him of the job.
In his confession, the 23-year-old told detectives that he and Hunter were picked up at about 22:00h in a silver Note motor car by Kendell, who took them to Burnham Drive and showed them the building. At that time, the mastermind informed them that he wanted the building burnt the same night and offered them $150,000 as reward.
The mastermind reportedly gave them a yellow five-gallon bottle of gas which he had in the trunk of his car. He then left the scene. The young man further related that they hid the gas in a clump of bushes a short distance from the GECOM building and went home.
However, at about midnight on July 14, 2020, the two cousins returned to the location, collected the bottle of gas, entered the compound from a side gate and gained access to the building from the back door.
February further confessed that they went into a store room in the upper flat of the building where he poured the gas and set the room on fire which led to an explosion resulting in them getting burns to their feet. The burn marks were still visible when they were arrested on Monday, a Police source confirmed.
Nevertheless, the two men escaped and went home where they met three female cousins and related what had transpired. One of the young women reportedly attended to their burns. February told Police that on the same evening, the mastermind went to their home and handed over 75,000, which he gave to his cousin, and the following day, he was given the other $75,000.
He claimed that after the incident they saw “Murgie” several times but they had no discussion on the incident. Later, the mastermind reportedly told him that he wanted the building burnt because GECOM was taking too long to swear in Granger as President.
Police had indicated that following the confession by “Nut”, they interrogated “Bushy” during which he supported the narrative told by his cousin.
Upon receipt of this information, investigators on Thursday arrested Kendell, who is said to be an APNU/AFC activist.
Previous reports indicated that moments after the building was set on fire almost one year ago, one of the security guards, who was on duty at the time, said that she heard a loud bang at about 01:55h.
This, she noted, prompted her to check around the building. She said that it was then that she again heard another loud explosion. The woman recalled that she then observed fire emanating from within the building along with the smell of gasoline.
The guard had told investigators that two males were observed running from the western side of the building. She added that the men ran through the nearby First Alley Street, Wismar, where they made good their escape.
Meanwhile, Police arrested the alleged intellectual author in the wee hours of Friday at his Linden home after he was implicated in the matter.
William Roy Marshall is reportedly the driver of Region 10 Chairman, Deron Adams and more so, a member of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR). A Police source stated that during interrogation of the trio, Marshall was identified as the person who would have passed the money to Kendall to execute the job.
The Police also stated that investigations are ongoing which will see other persons being charged in the coming days. Following his arrest, Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon in a release claimed that Marshall was abducted in the presence of his and child by persons in plain clothes.