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Brutal murder of Neesa Gopaul: Mother and stepfather gets reduced sentence

On Tuesday, a panel of three judges sitting at the Guyana Court of Appeal upheld the murder convictions of 50-year-old Bibi Sharima-Gopaul and her younger lover Barry Small who were sentenced to 106 years and 96 years imprisonment respectively for the October 2010 murder of Neesa Gopaul. Neesa Gopaul, 16, was the daughter of Sharima-Gopaul.

 

Though the Court found no reason upon which their conviction could be set aside, it held that Trial Judge Navindra Singh erred in imposing the lengthy jail sentences.  The three justices agreed that the sentences were severe and not in keeping with established sentencing guidelines.

 

As such, the Court of Appeal set aside the sentences of 106  years and 96 years and imposed a jail term of 45 years on both Sharima-Gopaul and Small. The murder convicts were given no credit for time spent in pre-trial custody given the aggravating circumstances in the case.

 

Among the aggravating factors highlighted by the Chancellor was the fact that Neesa Gopaul was only 16 when she met her demise, the extent of the injuries she received, the manner in which her body was disposed and the fact that she was killed by persons close to her.

 

Sharima-Gopaul and Small were charged with killing Neesa Gopaul, her daughter between September 23, 2010, and October 4, 2010, at Madewini, Linden-Soesdyke Highway.

 

The body of the teenager who attended Queen’s College was found stuffed into a suitcase, which was anchored in a creek at the Emerald Tower Resort with several dumbbells. A Government Pathologist testified that her head was bashed in and badly decomposed.

 

Following a trial before Justice Navindra Singh in 2016, Sharima-Gopaul and Small were found unanimously guilty of the teen’s killing by a 12-member jury sitting at the Demerara High Court. Trial Judge Navindra Singh subsequently imposed, on them, lengthy jail terms.

 

They later filed appeals. Throughout the appeal hearing, Small was represented by Attorneys-at-law Nigel Hughes, Ronald Daniels, and Sophia Findlay, while a State Counsel from the DPP’s chambers appeared on behalf of the prosecution.