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Guyanese man found guilty of murder

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Ewart Jordan Bacchus’ dream of going back to his native land Guyana for the Christmas holidays was dashed last week Thursday when he was convicted at the Criminal Assizes of the murder of Dougal McBarnett.{{more}}

However, Bacchus has to wait until December 12 to be sentenced.

McBarnett, 36, of Carib Village, Campden Park, was found along a by-pass road leading from Yambou to Argyle, around 11 a.m. on October 20, 2005, with two bullet holes to his chest.

The case that began on November 26, 2007, heard evidence coming from 14 witnesses.

Brother-in-law of the deceased, Brent Clement, told the court that McBarnett arrived at his home in Campden Park about 9 a.m. in a white rental Toyota Corolla, along with Cauldric Young of Campden Park. Clement mentioned that McBarnett told him that they were going to Diamond Dairy to meet someone, but he wasn’t aware of the reason at the time.

Upon reaching their destination, Clement said Bacchus was parked in a black jeep. It was said that McBarnett and Clement got out and spoke to Bacchus, after which all three came back and sat in McBarnett’s vehicle.

Clement said Young, who was seated in the passenger side at the front, took a parcel from under his seat and gave it to Bacchus. Clement later told the court that it was one kilo of cocaine. “Bacchus said it was ok and went back to his jeep with Dougal,” said Clement.

He said McBarnett collected a compressed package of money from Bacchus. “Dougal gave me the money and told me and Young to go in town and when he ready he would call me in town to pick him up.” He further stated that McBarnett left with the defendant in his jeep and headed further out on the windward coast.

While heading back to Kingstown, Clement said Young opened the bag, and instead of $18,000, there was only about $2,000, with some newspaper clippings the same size as the money between the stacks.

Clement said he tried contacting McBarnett by cellular phone about four times but did not get a response. Clement said they turned back in search of McBarnett and Bacchus. It was later that day that Clement said he learned of McBarnett’s fate.

According to instructions from his client, Defence lawyer Bertram Stapleton said that Bacchus went to make the drug deal with Clement and had never seen McBarnett up until that day. He said his client handed over US$35,000 to Clement. Stapleton noted that Bacchus was told by Clement that he was expecting another 20 kilos of cocaine. He said Bacchus agreed to purchase the cocaine but mentioned he only had US$60,000 and would owe him the remainder.

Stapleton said it was then that Clement went aside with McBarnett and had a conversation, after which Clement returned and placed a gun to his (Bacchus) head and said “Boy we want that money.”

Stapleton said Clement ordered McBarnett to ride in the jeep with Bacchus. While driving, Stapleton said McBarnett kept the gun pointed at Bacchus, who kept telling McBarnett that he would give him money.

At one point the jeep stopped, and Clement and Young, who were in the white rental Toyota Corolla following them, got out and came to the left side of the jeep with a gun and asked why they stopped.

Stapleton said McBarnett replied, “We done get the dope; let we leave the man alone.” Stapleton said an argument ensued between McBarnett and Clement and they started wrestling. Bacchus is said to have opened his door and lay flat on the ground, after which he heard gunshots go off. Bacchus said when he got up, he saw Clement walk back to his vehicle and drive off. He said McBarnett was left on the seat with gunshot wounds, and he pushed him out the vehicle and drove off for safety.

Prosecutor Duane Daniel said that it was not possible that Clement was the murderer. Referring to the medical evidence given by Dr Ronald Child, Daniel said that McBarnett was shot in the right side of his chest, and the bullet exited his lower back on the left, and that it was a right hand drive vehicle, of which Bacchus was the driver. Daniel put it to the defendant that he only expected to deal McBarnett that day. He added that after making the deal, he knew that Clement was going to call McBarnett about the money. “When you heard that phone ring, your heart turned to stone.” Daniel said it was then and there Bacchus made a decision that if McBarnett found out about the money he was going to shoot him (Bacchus). “You couldn’t allow that to happen, so you took the gun and shot him,” Daniel pointed out.

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