Police leading probe into death of Mazaruni inmate

…prisoner was part of re-integration training project

Acting Director of Prisons, Kevin Pilgrim

The Guyana Police Force (GPF) is now spearheading investigations into the death of Mazaruni Prison inmate Gary Stuart, who died after allegedly consuming a poisonous substance which he had believed to be alcohol.
This is according to acting Guyana Prison Service (GPS) Director Kevin Pilgrim, who, during an interview with Guyana Times on Monday, said the other inmates who consumed the same substance were also taken to the Bartica Regional Hospital for medical attention.
He said that, upon discovering the condition of Stuart before he succumbed, GPS ranks rushed the other prisoners to that hospital as a pro-active measure.
“We did not wait for them to complain. We took the entire team; we made the necessary arrangements to take them over to see the doctor at Bartica Public Hospital. What we would have done initially is send everybody to the hospital, because the fact that they did not even know what they would have consumed is worrying,” Pilgrim said.
Asked what the prisoners were doing working at the nearby quarry, Pilgrim explained that an agreement was in place for those prisoners to be so engaged as part of the process of their re-integration into society.
“They were there to not just work, but to be trained; so, ideally, they would do whatever the task for the day. Now, from the initial investigation, those men would have found this bottle containing the substance while cleaning up; concealed it, and obviously they would have consumed a portion of the contents of the bottle. Now, we only learnt of the same after it was observed in the morning hours (that) this individual was vomiting continuously, which would have resulted in him being escorted to the hospital. And in that regard, protocols would have kicked in with regard to (dealing) with that issue,” the acting prison director noted.
He added that permission had been granted for those prisoners to be working there, since they were all identified to benefit from the skills training as they are/were expected to be released back into communities before others.
“Once the prisoner leaves the confines to provide or perform work, or to be trained, it is actually captured under prisoners’ reintegration-type training. So a prisoner cannot leave to go and work anywhere, unless there is an agreement where somebody has to request, stating the nature of whatever is the work, and approval is there. With regards to the deceased prisoner, a post-mortem examination (PME) has been scheduled by the Police, and will be determined by the availability of the doctor,” Pilgrim explained.
He said the dead inmate’s relatives were notified of his demise, and they visited the Prison Service Headquarters, where arrangements are being put in place for the man’s funeral after the PME has been conducted.
Stuart died at about 05:45h on Saturday last, less than 24 hours after working at a nearby quarry. He was said to be washing and painting boats when he, along with other inmates, found the bottle of what they believed was alcohol.
The inmates hid the bottle from the prison officer on duty, and Stuart is said to have drunk the substance. However, it was not until 05:15h on Saturday that Stuart cried out for pains in his stomach and, as a result, was escorted to the Bartica Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. (Kristen Macklingam)