Pensioner charged with accessory to murders of miners at Arimu Backdam


Weeks after four men, including the two prime suspects, were charged, a 70-year-old man was on Friday placed on $600,000 bail after he denied being an accessory in the murders of gold miners Zaheer Mohammed Sheriff and Donvan Washington, at Arimu, Backdam, Cuyuni River.

Joseph Thomas of Liverpool Village, Corentyne, Berbice appeared before Magistrate Tariq Mohamed at the Bartica Magistrate’s Court.

He was not required to plead to the charge which was laid contrary to section 105 of the Criminal Law Offences Act Chapter 08:01.

Bail was granted and the matter was adjourned to May 31, 2024.

Four other men, namely Teddy Thomas, 44, a taxi driver of Itaballi Landing; Paul James Derrick, 20, a miner of Onderneeming Sandpit, Essequibo Coast; Travis Fredericks, 32; and Fernando Fredericks, 28, both miners from Tuschen Housing Scheme, East Bank Essequibo, are currently on remand for the crime.

Zaheer Mohammed Sheriff (left) and Donvan Washington

They were charged days apart for murdering Sheriff and Washington during the course of a robbery.

The News Room understands that the incident occurred at around 10:00 hrs on March 03 after Sheriff, who owns a land dredge operation at the Backdam, left the mine with about 102 ounces of raw gold. He was en route to Bartica, with Washington.

Joel Stephen, 39, who is the General Manager of Sheriff’s operation, alleged that about five minutes after the men left the camp, several loud explosions, which sounded like gunshots, were heard.

Stephen said he went to make checks in the area and about 500 metres away from the camp, he found both men lying in the trail with gunshot injuries about their bodies.

Both of Sheriff’s firearms- a .32 pistol and a 12-gauge shotgun- and the gold were missing. Stephen then made a report to the Bartica Police Station.

Sheriff’s body was later examined and several wounds were seen on his upper right chest, his upper right thigh, his upper right arm and his left upper back.

Washington’s body was examined and wounds were seen on his lower abdomen, left chest, left shoulder, left elbow, right thigh, left thigh, and his back.

The scene was processed and one .32 magazine with eight live matching rounds, seven 9MM spent shells, and three .32 spent shells were found.

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