Neesa Gopaul: Appeal Court upholds conviction of mother/lover, reduces jail time
The Court of Appeal on Tuesday upheld the conviction of Bibi Shareema Gopaul and her ex-lover, Jarvis ‘Barry’ Small, for the 2010 murder of 16-year-old Neesa Gopaul, and resentenced them to 45 years.
The pair was initially sentenced to a combined total of 202 years in prison for the gruesome murder of the teen, having been found guilty at the Georgetown High Court in March 2015, and sentenced to 106 years and 96 years imprisonment, respectively, by High Court judge Justice Navindra Singh.
Dissatisfied with the ruling of the court, the duo appealed the conviction and sentence, arguing that the trial was unfair and that the judge erred in law.
Small is represented by attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes and Associates, while Gopaul is represented by attorney-at-Law Arud Gossai. The State is represented by Prosecutor Stacy Goodings.
The appeal was heard via Zoom by Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag) Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, and Justices of Appeal Dawn Gregory and Rishi Persaud.
In delivering the ruling, the Chancellor dismissed the arguments of the convicts’ attorneys, who contend that the murder indictment and trial should have been done separately.
The attorneys for Small argued that the evidence led by the prosecution’s key witness, Simon DeNobrega was inadmissible and prejudicial against their client.
But the Chancellor said that the incident is interwoven and the severing of the indictment would not have been possible or necessary.
As it relates to fairness, the Chancellor said that the evidence against the duo was admissible, noting that the Appeal Court did not find that there was a substantial miscarriage of justice in the case. However, they found that the trial judge erred in his consideration when he imposed the jail sentences.
Citing that the initial sentence was excessive, the Chancellor said that the trial judge erred in the determination of the term of sentence.
The Appeal Court affirmed the duo’s convictions but reduced their sentence to 45 years. However, the court did not deduct time spent on remand from their sentence.
On October 2, 2010, the remains of Neesa Gopaul were discovered at a location along the Soesdyke-Linden Highway, tucked inside a suitcase that was partially submerged in a creek.
A rope had been wrapped around the suitcase, and dumbbells were attached at one end, apparently in an effort to keep the body underwater.
Besides the body, a passport bearing the name, Neesa Lalita Gopaul, was found. The teenager was reported missing just days before the gruesome discovery was made.
Her head had been bashed in and the trial heard that 50% of it was gone when the recovered corpse was examined.
Subsequent to the discovery of the body, the teen’s mother, Bibi, and Small were arrested and charged with murder.