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Thursday, March 23, 2006
From Stabroek News...
Court day
Nine charged after raids
Phaedra Pearson (centre) being escorted into the compound of the Georgetown Magistrate's Court yesterday by attorney-at-law Paul Fung-a-Fat (right).

Nine persons yesterday appeared before Magistrate Bertlyn Reynolds at the Georgetown Magistrate's Court to answer various charges stemming from raids conducted by police and army teams on Sunday and Monday.

Among those appearing was the wife of Royston Peniston, who is the owner of the Blue Iguana nightclub, the reputed wife of businessman Roger Khan and the stepfather of the 12-year-old boy who was shot dead at his Mc Doom home on Saturday.

The arrest of these persons came after several businessplaces - including some linked to Khan - nightclubs and homes were searched in an effort to recover 33 AK-47 guns and five handguns stolen from army headquarters. Eighteen persons were held during the operation. Items seized included guns, ammunition, military gear, cocaine and a bullet-proof vehicle. However, no one has been charged in relation to the cocaine or the vehicle as yet.

Appearing first was Peniston's wife, Phaedra Pearson. Pearson, 27, of Lot 7 Bel Air Avenue, Lamaha Gardens pleaded not guilty to the charges of failing to renew her firearm licence and unlawful possession of ammunition without being the holder of a firearm license. Magistrate Reynolds subsequently released her on $50, 000 bail.

It is alleged that on Sunday at her home, Pearson had in her possession two rounds of ammunition: a.38 and a 9mm. She is also alleged to have failed to renew her licence for 2005.

Attorney-at-laws Vic Puran and Mishka Puran in association with Paul Fung-a-Fat appeared for Pearson.

Mishka Puran in a bail application informed the court that her client who is the mother of two is six weeks pregnant.

The defence counsel stated that the woman presently has stress related to the pregnancy which could cause her to lose the child.

According to the defence counsel the police have her passport and other documents in their possession.

"The defendant had indicated to the police that the ammunition belongs to her husband who is presently in police custody".

Mishka Puran indicated to the court that the gun in question is in her client's name. The defence counsel after her submission asked for reasonable bail.

Police prosecutor Robert Clement objected to bail. Added to the seriousness of the offence, he said, the items were discovered by police during a raid.

"If there was never a raid the police would have never known her licence had to be renewed and she had the ammunition in her possession".

Mishka Puran in reply stated that the seriousness of the offence is not a factor in the granting of bail. She stated that Pearson had the licence since 2004.

Pearson was granted bail and was told to return to Court on April 28.

Onika Leach, Chris Worrell and George Prince appeared after being accused of having a number of guns, matching ammunition and a flare at a house in Bel Air Village.

The three pleaded not guilty to the charges of unlawful possession of firearms and unlawful possession of ammunition, both without being the holders of a firearm licence and possession of an explosive. They were all remanded to prison. Prince is the stepfather of 12-year-old Kevin Browne who was murdered on Saturday.

It is alleged that on Sunday the trio had four guns including a Taurus pistol, 20 rounds of .40 ammunition, 128 rounds of 9mm ammunition, 16 rounds of .45 ammunition, 1 round of .223 ammunition and a flare.

They were represented by Fung-a-fat, Vic Puran and Glen Hanoman.

Puran in his submission told the court that there is no evidence against his clients. He stated that the police had no keys to the premises and the doors were broken down by the army.

"Prince's son was murdered the day before this incident and he went to the police for protection.

Police offered him none so he ended up at this premises in Bel Air on that morning making inquiries for assistance. Puran then made an argument for bail setting out certain information.

However, prosecutor Clement objected to bail being granted to any of the accused. He based his objection on the fact that investigations are still being conducted into the matter.

According to Puran, Leach was standing on the bridge when the joint operation was carried out. He stated that the woman went there to Worrell and has no connection whatsoever to the place.

Puran subsequently asked the court to grant an order for the two men to be placed under close watch and to be permitted to view the handing over of their meals.

The defence counsel told the magistrate that she is sending Prince to his death if she places him in prison. He asked the magistrate if she couldn't place the man in police custody.

In response the magistrate told Puran that she doesn't make certain orders especially as to how food is handled in the Camp Street prison.

The trio will return on Friday before the Acting Chief Magistrate Cecil Sullivan in Court One.

Next up was Khan's reputed wife, Ashanti Schultz and her brother Lonsdale Schultz called Ryan. The two were charged with having ammunition in their possession at their Lot 109 Ixora Avenue, Eccles, EBD home on Monday. They pleaded not guilty to the joint charge and were released on $35, 000 and $30, 000 bail respectively by the magistrate. It is alleged that they had three .22 rounds of ammunition.

They were represented by attorneys-at-law Sanjeev Datadin and Navendra Singh. Datadin in an application for bail told the court that his clients have been in custody since Monday. According to the defence counsel they had not been asked if they had anything to say or to make a statement.

Datadin said that if Ashanti Schultz had been asked about the ammunition she would have indicated to the police that they belonged to a licensed firearm holder.

Clement objected to bail saying that the offence is a serious one.

Before the charges were read to Ashanti Schultz, the magistrate told her that she would have to remain in custody since there was a pre-existing arrest warrant for her. This was issued three months ago. She had been charged with assaulting a police officer with intent to prevent her arrest.

Singh who is appearing for her in that matter informed the court that there was an agreement to discontinue the matter. He added the Ashanti Schultz and the policeman, Wilford Lewis were cross- charged. The defence counsel stated that his client appeared in court four times but the police never showed up.

The magistrate after reviewing the court jacket told Singh that none of what he said was reflected on the jacket.

Ashanti Schultz was however told that the warrant would be recalled and she was instructed to return to court on April 3 for that matter.

Edwards Peters, a former major in the army appeared next. The 45-year-old pleaded not guilty to acquiring military stores and was remanded until Friday.

It is alleged that he had two army helmets, one camouflage shirt, one olive green shirt and pants, one green wire cutter holder, two ceremonial belts, one sword belt and one manual on Monday at Grove Housing Scheme EBD. These items are all the property of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF).

He was represented by Vic Puran, Hanoman and Fung-a-Fat.

Fung-a-Fat in an application for bail told the court that Peters is a military hero who had been in the army for over 23 years. The defence counsel stated that when he resigned the army refused to let him return the articles to the compound.

"He was the one who stopped (Suriname) from taking over the New River Triangle", the counsel informed the court.

After Peters was refused bail Puran told the court that his client made several calls to the army asking them to come for the military kit and they refused to come.

Next was the mother of one of the men wanted by the police. Sharon Mars, 42, of Lot 239 Pike Street Kitty faced a charge of possession of ammunition and a firearm which she denied. She was placed on $75,000 bail.

It is alleged that on Sunday in her home Mars had six .38 rounds, 15 .380 rounds, four .32 rounds of ammunition and three guns including a .32 Smith and Wesson pistol and a special revolver when she was not the holder of a firearm licence.

Vic Puran appeared for her. According to the defence counsel, the police know that the weapons don't belong to his client.

"A wanted bulletin is out for the person who owns the weapons. She is the mother of that person".

Clement however asked for the court to refuse the woman bail. According to the prosecutor, this type of offence has become more and more serious in society. He asked for bail to be refused on the grounds that Mars had no licence.

Puran added that another person is still in custody for these very offences. He stated that the mother of six was not the only person in the house at the time.

Last to appear was Mervin Young. Young is accused of having two AK-47 firearm cleaning kits, a pair of handcuffs, a quantity of ammunition both live and blank and four magazines. He pleaded not guilty to three unlawful possession charges and he was remanded to prison.

Young allegedly had these items on Sunday in North East La Penitence.

He was unrepresented and will return to Court one on March 27.