“Smallie” Williams still in Guyana but can slip through dragnet

Last Updated on Saturday, 20 May 2023, 14:44 by Denis Chabrol

Director of Prisons Nicklon Elliott and Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn.

Murder convict Royden “Smallie” Williams and three gunmen who helped free him from the Mazaruni Prison are believed to be still in Guyana, more than one day after the shootout, Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn said Saturday.

“Certainly they are still in Guyana and still in the general area  of the event so that is for sure,” he told a news conference. The minister indicated that there was no need to contact neighbouring  Venezuela and Brazil to be on the lookout for the wanted men. He said they are Guyanese “of the criminal ilk.”

It was not immediately clear whether the Director of Prisons had granted permission for Williams, who was sentenced to death on eight counts of murder during the Bartica massacre,  to be allowed visits, as the law prohibits such. The Prisons Act states that, “except with the written permission of the Director, no person other than a member of the prison staff, the medical officer and a minister of the religious denomination to which the prisoner belongs, shall have access to any prisoner under the sentence of death.” Decades ago, visitors to the Mazaruni Prison could only be transported by the prison’s boat but Mr Elliott on Saturday said they could use other vessels as if it is convenient.

Mr Benn, however, could not rule out Williams and the other men could slip through the Joint Services dragnet. “Even though the area is isolated  on the trails and by the river; that it’s fairly large and people can move through the jungle and get out of the general area and that’s what we are working to prevent,” he added.

The Home Affairs Minister could not confirm whether there was any sighting. He said the search was expected t0 intensify with the searching of vehicles, mining camps and houses

He said after a shackled Williams was assisted in the small boat, he and the three gunmen exited the boat in the vicinity of the Baracara Quarry which is three to four miles from the maximum security prison after the boat engine failed.

Mr Benn also confirmed that the boat captain told investigators that he was kidnapped and ordered to go on the mission. “We can also confirmed that a boatman, the owner of the boat, who is said to have been forced to facilitate the movement of these persons is in police custody and so far, as we understand, is cooperating with the police,” the minister said.

A woman, who had moments earlier visited Williams, was arrested at the Mazaruni Prison. Director of Prisons Nicklon Elliott could not immediately say whether she had done so before.

The Home Affairs Minister said police have detained two prison officers for questioning about the daring daylight attack