Michael Caesar, 36, called ‘Capone’ and ‘Deon Cort’ is currently serving a 60 years prison term for his involvement in the 2008 Bartica and Lusignan Massacres, which resulted in the deaths of 20 persons. This morning he pleaded guilty to two other killings following, as well as two counts of robbery under-arms, following his arraignment before Justice Simone Morris-Ramlall at the High Court in Demerara.
He was further sentenced to a total 13 years’ imprisonment which was ordered to be served concurrently with the 60 years’ sentence he is presently serving for his involvment in the two massacres.
Caesar, who had been part of the notorious Rondell ‘Fineman’ Rawlins gang was initially indicted for the December 16, 2007, murders of Fazil Hakim called ‘Boyie’, 25, and Rajesh Singh called ‘Rabbit’, 35, which occured at Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara.
He, however, this morning opted to plead guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter, thereby admitting that he unlawfully killed the men.
Further, he also pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery under-arms. It is alleged that on December 16, 2007, at the same location, Caesar, along with others, while armed with guns and cutlasses, robbed two men of cash, jewellery and other valuables.
Having considered the nature and circumstances under which the offences were committed, along with the fact that firearms were used, Justice Ramlall sentenced Caesar to 36 years’ imprisonment on each of the two counts of manslaughter and 30 years’ imprisonment on each of the two counts robbery under-arms.
The sentences were ordered to run ccurrently.
From the 36 years’ sentence for manslaughter, she deducted 12 years for his early guilty plea and another 11 years for the time he spent in pre-trial custody; hence arriving at the the overall 13 years prison sentence in relation to the two counts of manslaughter. In relation to the 30 years’ jail term on each of the two counts of robbery under-arms, the judge made similar deductions for early guilty plea and time already served; hence bringing the total sentence for each of the robbery under-arms charges to nine years. The Judge then ordered that the 13 years and nine years prison will run concurrently.
This brings Caesar total time to be served to 13 years imprisonment on both counts of manslaughter and robbery under-arms. Finally, the judge ordered that the prison sentence of 13 years will concurrently with the 60 years prison term Caesar is currently serving for the Bartica and Lusignan massacres.
The convict becomes eligible for parole after serving 40 years. The indictment against him was presented by State Prosecutors Tuanna Hardy and Tyra Bakker.
According to the facts of the case, Caesar gave a confession statement detailing his involvement in the killings. Prosecutor Hardy related that Caesar told the police he was the ‘look out man’ of the group of men, who invaded a liquor bar at Lot 82, Agriculture Road, Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara, and carried out the killings and robberies. Following the killings, Caesar fled to neighbouring Suriname, but was apprehended two years later by police.
During today’s court hearing which was done via Zoom, lawyer Maxwell McKay, who represented Caesar, told the court that his client has been incarcerated since 2009. He urged the judge to consider the fact that his client pleaded guilty to the crimes at the first opportunity and has not wasted the court’s time by going through a trial.
According to McKay, his client has shown remorse for his actions. Prosecutor Hardy submitted that Caesar’s actions claimed the lives of two innocent citizens. She added that there was some degree of deliberation, and planning. The Prosecutor also reminded the court that Caesar is currently serving time for his involvement in the Bartica and Lusignan massacres.
In December 2016, [now] Chief Justice Roxane George sentenced Caesar to 60 and 45 years imprisonment for unlawfully killing 20 persons during the Lusignan and Bartica massacres. In these two cases, Caesar was indicted for murder, but opted to plead guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter.
He was sentenced to 45 years’ jail each on eight counts of manslaughter for the Lusignan massacre—a total of 360 years. But more was to come. He was further jailed for 60 years each on 12 counts of manslaughter for the Bartica massacre—a total of 720 years.
This brought his total sentence to 1080 years; however, Justice George ordered that the 60 years and 45 years sentences are to be served concurrently.
Another man, Clebert Reece, called ‘Chi Chi’, has also pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges following the killing of 12 persons at Bartica on February 17, 2008. Reece, however, was jailed for 35 years on each of the 12 counts; the sentences are to run concurrently.
On Sunday night, February 17, 2008, a number of gunmen attacked the mining community of Bartica, Essequibo, killing 12 residents and injuring several others. The group of about 20 armed gunmen arrived at Bartica by speed boat. They landed at the Transport and Harbours wharf around 10pm.
Upon arrival, they attacked the Bartica Police Station, where they killed Lance Corporal Zaheer Zakir, Constable Shane Fredericks and Constable Ron Osbornes. After murdering the three police officers, the gang stole cash, arms, ammunition and a vehicle from the police station. Using the stolen police vehicle, they drove through the streets of Bartica shooting at civilians, fatally wounding Irwin Gilkes.
They then proceeded to CBR Mining, where they killed Irving Ferreira, stole arms and ammunition, and removed two safes containing cash and gold. Next, they shot and killed Dexter Adrian before returning to the wharf. At the wharf, they executed Abdool Yassin Jr, Deonarine Singh, Errol Thomas, Ronald Gomes, Baldeo Singh and Ashraf Khan. After their one-hour rampage, the gunmen departed from Bartica by boat.
Caesar has also accepted that on January 26, 2008, at Lusignan, East Coast Demerara, he unlawfully killed eight of the 11 victims of the Lusignan Massacre.
He said he was responsible for killing Clarence Thomas; his 12-year-old daughter Vanessa Thomas and his son 11-year-old son, Ron Thomas; 32-year-old Mohandai Gourdat and her two sons, four-year-old Seegobind Harrilall and ten-year-old Seegopaul Harrilall; 22-year-old Shazam Mohamed; and 55-year-old Shaleem Baksh.
On the morning of Saturday, 26 January 2008, gunmen stormed into the small village of Lusignan and murdered 11 people, including five children and six adults. Five families were affected by the massacre. The gunmen, armed with shotguns and AK-47s entered Lusignan around 2:00 am and invaded the homes of the families. Within 20 minutes 11 people were murdered.
Mark ‘Smallie’ Williams and Dennis ‘Anaconda’ Williams have both been sentenced to death by hanging for eight and seven counts of murder respectively, in relation to the Bartica Massacre. They were each sentenced to life imprisonment for four and five counts of manslaughter respectively, in relation to the said massacre.
Mark Williams and James Hyles were also charged in relation to the killing of the 12 people at Lusignan. Following a trial by a jury before a judge, both of them were found not guilty. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) appealed their acquittals to the Court of Appeal on the basis that there were material irregularities during the trial.
The Court of Appeal agreed, allowed the appeal, overturned the men’s not guilty verdicts, and remitted the case to the High Court for retrial. The men appealed the Court of Appeal’s decision to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which allowed their appeal, set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal and restored the jury’s not guilty verdicts.