Insufficient evidence: Judge frees trio accused of murdering elderly couple

Three men were on Monday freed of the murder of an elderly rice-farming couple, Mohamed Munir and his wife, Bibi Jamila, who were burnt to death in their Good Hope, East Bank Essequibo home in 2016.

Jason Howard called ‘Smelly’; Shamadeen Mohammed called ‘Milo’ and Joel Blair, were on trial before Justice Jo-Ann Barlow at the Demerara High Court.

The men had denied killing the elderly couple on April 17, 2016, in the course or furtherance of arson.

During the trial, the Judge conducted a voir dire to determine the admissibility of a caution statement which the men had given to Police detectives when they were arrested At the end of that voir dire, Justice Barlow ruled that the statement was inadmissible.

With the prosecution relying solely on this statement to prove its case, the Judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prove the charge against the trio; as such, the Judge made a no-case submission on their behalf.

Dead: Mohamed Munir and his wife, Jamilla Munir

Accordingly, she directed the jurors to return a formal not-guilty verdict and discharged them. The trio was represented a group of attorneys under the direction of Nigel Hughes.

On the night of April 17, 2016, the elderly couple, who were popular rice farmers, were burnt to death in their home, allegedly by bandits who invaded the premises.

According to residents at the time, the couple was trapped in their bedroom when gunmen set the building alight.

Howard is no stranger to the court; in February 2023, he along with another, was freed by the High Court from an attempted murder charge due to insufficient evidence.

Back in 2019, Howard was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment after a magistrate found him guilty of robbing a fruit vendor in 2016. He was also before the court for a series of robbery charges.