Last Updated on Wednesday, 1 February 2017, 11:58 by Derwayne Wills
Based on advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions’ office, Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan today dropped murder charges against 21-year-old Jason Howard, and 23-year-old Curtis Vasconcellos.
The two were jointly charged in the attempted murder of Tower Hotel security guard, Balmick Persaud in the process of a robbery.
Another attempted murder charge was dropped against Howard, who was charged with unlawfully wounding with intention to murder Quacy Joseph at Water Street on October 21, 2016.
Two new charges were brought against the duo, however. The first is unlawfully and maliciously discharging a loaded firearm on December 14 last at Main Street with intent to maim, disfigure or cause grievous bodily harm against Balmick Persaud, the Tower Hotel security guard.
The second new charge read that the duo, on the same day and location, unlawfully and maliciously wounded Balmick Persaud with intent to maim, disfigure or cause grievous bodily harm.
The two were not required to plea to the new charges as they were laid indictably, while they pleaded not guilty to a charge of armed robbery where they stole close to $3million in items.
At the last court date, police prosecution told the court the medical report was yet to be submitted in the duo’s joint attempted murder charge, and the robbery under arms file was incomplete. The Chief Magistrate had advised the prosecution seek advice on the robbery charges.
The duo, particularly Howard, still have a number of outstanding matters.
Howard of East La Penitence robbed Roopnaraine Boodhoo on October 1 of $800,000 on North Road; Bibi Bacchus of $100,000 in Plaisance on November 6; and Sheik Sudesh of $35,000 in Queenstown.
Howard had previously been charged along with Curtis Vasconcellos for robbing Tower Hotel Accountant Valdeo Seegobin of some $2.5M last year.
Howard was last year jointly charged with three other men with the murder of an elderly rice farming couple in their Good Hope, East Bank Demerara home.
That rice couples murder case was broken open when Howard was arrested following the Tower Hotel Accountant’s robbery, which ended in Police chase.
Police investigators learnt that the men, upon breaking into the couple’s house, hunted for valuables and in the process, the couple woke up.
There were reports that the perpetrators then attempted to gain access to the couple’s bedroom at the rear of the building, but because of the security feature, they were unable to do so.
Howard and company then reportedly lit a sofa afire and threw a gas bottle into the fire, resulting in a loud explosion minutes after they fled the scene.
Howard was expected to appear before Sparendaam Magistrates Court on January to answer to his robbery under arms charge in Plaisance.
Vasconcellos will stand trial in High Court at the next practical sitting of the Demerara Assizes for the attempted robbery of a Grove businessman. Vasconcellos was accompanied by several others on motorcycles. Michael Grant, one of Vasconcellos’ accomplices, was shot dead on the attempt.
Meanwhile, Howard will return to Magistrates court on February 16.