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Six suspects held with masks after Corriverton raid

-retirees thank God after 45-minute torment

Police responding promptly after an armed robbery at a Corriverton liquor bar on Wednesday night have arrested six men on whose persons they found masks.

And a Corriverton couple, two retirees, are praising God for their lives after enduring a 45-minute ordeal at the hands of three armed bandits who invaded their bar.

Earlier that day a cattle farmer in the area was also robbed of $20,000 and quantity of jewellery by a lone armed bandit.

The bandits on Wednesday night bound the woman and brutalised five customers. They escaped with US$1,500 Cdn$700 and around $100,000 in Guyana currency from the couple's Lot 5 Kingston, Corriverton home. They also ransacked the couple's wardrobe and carted off close to 100 pennyweights of gold jewellery.

Relating the incident to Stabroek News yesterday, 81-year-old Ramjit Singh, a retired headmaster, said he and his wife who is also a retiree operated a small business on the lower flat of their two-storey house. Singh said it was around 9 pm on Wednesday. Five of his regular customers were in the bar drinking while he was sitting at a desk doing some tasks for his Lion's Club.

According to the elderly man, three men armed with guns and wearing masks walked into the bar. He said one of them stopped at the gate while the other two marched up to the counter where he was and seized him.

"I thought they were joking because of the way they dressed, but when I saw the guns I realised what it was," Singh said.

The two bandits who accosted him demanded cash and jewellery and he emptied his pocket of whatever money he had along with the day's sales into their hands. Simultaneously, the bandit who stopped at the gate ordered the five rum drinkers to lie face down and their pockets were searched and whatever money they had was taken.

Singh recounted that as the bandit guarded the customers who were on the floor he was led upstairs by the two who had held him. He said before he entered the upstairs area, one of the bandits commanded him to call out his wife who was in her bedroom attending to church work. "Call your wife else we gon shoot you," the bandits commanded the old man who obeyed.

Once the woman opened the door, she was confronted by the bandits who then began terrorising the couple with death threats, while binding the woman's hands. "We begged and pleaded with them to leave us alone. We told them we are pensioners and ain't get anything, but they continue to terrorise us," the old man said.

Singh related that he and his wife were then led into their bedroom where the men ransacked the wardrobe and took out the money and jewellery. He said even with the large haul they had, one of them continued to make death threats, but he pleaded with him not to injure them.

While this was going on upstairs, the lone bandit downstairs was busy shoving his boots into the customers mouths. Singh said the bandit severely beat the men downstairs. However, one of the customers, who Singh described as a regular, felt that he had taken enough blows and he dared the bandit to shoot him dead.

"Shoot me, kill me if you want to. You nah gat no bullet in that gun," the customer declared. At this point the bandit whistled alerting his accomplices upstairs and they quickly ran out of the house and escaped on a nearby dam.

Singh told Stabroek News that the bandits had disconnected the telephone when they got into the house, but as soon as they fled he fixed it and called the police. Within ten minutes a large contingent of armed ranks arrived on the scene and they proceeded to follow the escape route of the bandits and picked up six men. It is not clear whether the six men were part of the gang, but reports are that they were found with masks.

Singh said he has been operating his business for 20 years now and it was the first time he was robbed. He believes that the robbers are dwellers of the Corriverton Squatting Area and may have had good knowledge about his operations. The couple up to press time last night was traumatised over the incident and was considering whether to continue with their business. "It was a terrible experience we are really shaken up," Singh said.

Earlier in the day Deo Dhamha of Duke Town, Corriverton was robbed by a lone gunman of $20,000 cash and a quantity of jewellery. A release from the Police Public Relations Office said, Dhamha, a cattle farmer awoke from his sleep around 2:30 am and was confronted by the man. A struggle ensued between them during which time a round was discharged and the cattle farmer assaulted with the gun. Dhamha was treated at the Skeldon Hospital for the injuries he sustained and later sent away, the release added.

Armed robberies have been the order of the day in Berbice over the past months with at least one every day during the past two weeks.