Bibi Goopaul and her former love, Jarvis Small, who were sentenced to more than 200 years in jail for the 2010 murder of 16-year-old Neesa Gopaul, on Friday, asked the Court of Appeal to quash their conviction.
The duo argued that the prosecution led against the prejudicial evidence, which renders their conviction unsafe.
The dismembered and headless remains of the younger Gopaul were found stuffed in a suitcase in a creek along the Linden-Soesdyke Highway. Also discovered were a passport and a bank card that bore the teen’s name.
The suitcase was wrapped with rope and attached to dumbbells in an apparent effort to keep the young woman’s body submerged. The former QC student was found weeks after she was reported missing from her Leonora, West Coast Demerara (WCD) home. Her cause of death was given as multiple blunt force trauma to the head.
High Court Judge, Justice Navindra Singh had found the duo guilty of the murder.
The case was heard by Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, and Justices of Appeal Dawn Gregory and Rishi Persaud today.
Small is represented by prominent Attorneys-at-Law Nigel Hughes, Ronald Daniels, and Sophia Findlay, while Arud Gosai represents Bibi Gopaul.
During today’s hearing, Attorney Hughes argued that the most grievous issues in the matter are the severing of the indictments to allow their client and Bibi Goopaul to have separate trials.
He further reasoned that even with the best directions in the world, a jury would have been prejudicial to Small, given the evidence led by the Prosecution against Bibi Gopaul.
He pointed out that the only evidence led against his client was a pair of dumbbells found at the crime scene. Hughes contended that there is no connection between the items, his client, and the murder of the younger Gopaul.
Hughes noted that there was no direct or even contingent evidence linking his client to the killing of the young teen.
Meanwhile, Gosai claimed that the evidence of the prosecution’s main witness, Simone De Nobrega – a former cellmate of Bibi Gopaul, was highly prejudicial to his client and resulted in the insufficiency of justice. During the trial, she had testified that Bibi confided in her that it was Small who had killed her daughter by bashing her head in with a piece of wood.
Citing a case from the Privy Council, Gosai maintained that Justice Singh failed to warn the jury how to treat with the evidence given by De Nobrega. He noted that one must be “extra careful’ as there were many discrepancies in her testimony when contrasted with the prosecution’s case.
Gosai stated that the Trial Judge failed to apprise the jury that De Nobrega was not a reliable witness as she was convicted for crimes of a corrupt nature. He was keen to point out that the De Nobrega was facing 26 charges for crimes of dishonesty.
He added that the Trial Judge did not even inform the jury that the prosecution’s key witness had been convicted. He posited that if Justice Singh had done this, the indicators from the case cited from the Privy Council would have rendered De Nobrega’s evidence suspicious and unreliable.
The Court of Appeal on Wednesday will continue arguments in the matter.