Family demands answers, suspects foul play following death of inmate at NA Prison
Devendra Singh, a 30-year-old inmate of the New Amsterdam Prison, died on August 23, days after being hospitalised and his family believes that he was assaulted while in custody.
Singh, a resident of Number 65 Village, East Berbice, Corentyne was serving a 16-month sentence for assault.
In an interview with the News Room, his grandmother, Chandra Toolsie explained that she received a call from the New Amsterdam Prison on Monday, August 21 informing her that Singh was hospitalised; she said no other information was provided.
The family later learned that Singh had been hospitalised since August 17 and they were only informed after his condition had deteriorated and he was unable to speak.
Toolsie said in order to visit Singh at the hospital, the family was told that they would need clearance from the prison authorities. As such, she said she went about the process.
Upon visiting Singh, Toolsie said his body bore several injuries, indicating that he was badly beaten.
“Up to last month, I went and see him [at the prison] and he was okay and then suddenly this boy admitted in the hospital…When we go there (hospital) I couldn’t recognise my own grandson. He had in the respirator on his face…he had in the saline,” Toolsie told the News Room.
She added, “he have a burst on his eye. He have a bite on his ears and he have one, two more hit.”
Since then, Toolsie said the family has been seeking answers.
But according to her, the authorities have been providing her with conflicting information.
“…The OC (officer-in-charge of the prison) seh he was in Georgetown… He seh he have to find out wah happen…he don’t know. He seh them got to bring in the Police. Them seh meh grandson and two more [men] went in a cell.
“He nah murder, he nah kill, he nah nothing. Only he play lil misbehave and the magistrate give him 14 months,” she added.
An autopsy on Wednesday revealed that Singh died as a result of shock and hemorrhage to the brain. He also had an enlarged liver and lung failure.
But the family maintains that his death is linked to the injuries he sustained while in prison.
“…He is a fat, shine bai. Is in deh (prison) them beat him. Them other jail man beat he up right in deh. Me see how meh grandson get all them hit,” Toolise told the News Room.
Contacted on Friday, Police Commander of Region Six, Shivpersaud Bacchus told the News Room that the Police are investigating the incident.
The News Room understands that Singh also suffered from a mental health illness.
“We (police) received a report from prison authorities that person of unsound mind was around a group of other persons in a cell…He received some injuries and he died,” Bacchus said.
As the investigation continues, Bacchus said Police are questioning the other inmates who were housed in the cell with Singh.
To date, the Guyana Prison Service has not released any information on the young man’s death.