The Court of Appeal on Wednesday, November 11, 2020 concluded arguments in an appeal filed by Bibi Gopaul and her former lover, Jarvis Small. The appellate court has since reserved its ruling.
Bibi Gopaul and Small were sentenced to 102- and 96-years’ imprisonment respectively for the 2010 murder of 16-year-old Neesa Gopaul, the daughter of Bibi Gopaul.
The two murder convicts have now gone to the Court of Appeal asking that their conviction by the jury and sentence imposed by Justice Navindra Singh, be quashed.
Hearing the case was Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, and Justices of Appeal Dawn Gregory and Rishi Persaud.
Small’s legal team being led by prominent lawyer, Nigel Hughes is arguing that the trial judge erred when he overruled an application to sever the joint indictment against Bibi Gopaul and Jarvis Small.
This, the lawyer argued, would have allowed for his client to be tried separately from Bibi Gopaul. According to the defence lawyer, a jury would have been prejudicial to Small given the evidence led by the Prosecution against Bibi Gopaul.
Hughes submitted that the only evidence led against his client was a pair of dumbbells that were found at the crime scene. With regards to the dumbbells found with the body of Neesa Gopaul, Hughes argued that there is no nexus between the items, his client, and the murder of the teenager.
Meanwhile, Gopaul’s lawyer, Arud Gosai contended that the evidence of the prosecution’s main witness, Simone De Nobrega was highly prejudicial to his client. As a consequence, he said that it resulted in a miscarriage of justice.
De Nobrega was a former cellmate of Bibi Gopaul, who has been convicted for crimes of a dishonest nature.
She had testified that Bibi Gopaul confided in her that it was Small who had killed her daughter by bashing her head in with a piece of wood.
Relying on a case from the Judicial Privy Council, Gosai argued that Justice Singh failed to warn the jury how to treat with the evidence given by De Nobrega.
The decomposed and headless remains of Neesa Gopaul, a former student of Queen’s College, was discovered in a suitcase at a creek along the Soesdyke/Linden Highway on October 02, 2020, days after she was reported missing from her Leonora, West Coast Demerara home.
There were dumbbells attached to the suitcase to submerge her body. A pathologist gave the teenager’s cause of death as blunt trauma to the head.
Following a jury trial in 2015 before Justice Navindra Singh at the High Court in Demerara, Bibi Gopaul and Small were found guilty of the crime.