Bartica massacre trialCelbert Reece, the self-confessed member of the infamous gang that carried out the 2008 Bartica Massacre, continued to be cross-examined at the High Court in Demerara.Taking the stand on Monday morning, he faced Defence Counsel Saphier Hussain, who is representing co-accused Dennis Williams, whom Reece identified as being part of the criminal gang that executed the attack which saw the slaughter of three Policemen and nine civilians on February 17, 2008.At Monday’s hearing, Reece stated that he was never convicted of any crime prior to the Bartica incident. Grilled by Attorney Hussain, the State witness reiterated that he had not been armed at the time of the attack, further adding that he also told Police rank “Reid” that he did not kill anyone.The defence counsel then suggested that Reece “had no reason” to plead guilty and made the jarring accusation that his pleading guilty was a “concoction” to give evidence in the case.Under the direction of presiding Judge Roxane George, SC, the State witness clarified that he decided to plead guilty following a discussion with his attorney.“I told my lawyer I wanted to plead guilty,” the self-confessed gang member told the 12-member jury.Although Reece’s response was determined to be clear, Hussain made several attempts to ascertain if there was any plea deal with the State, but the court overruled his line of questioning on the basis of irrelevance. He was also warned against making “improper suggestions” against State Prosecutor Diana Kaulesar.Meanwhile, as the Attorney moved on with his cross-examination, he asked the witness how long he had known the gang leader Rondell “Fineman” Rawlins.“I get to know him when I picked him up at East Coast,” Reece noted, adding that “Fineman” had contacted his cousin, fellow convict Michael Caesar. Reece also stressed that in his presence, there was no meeting, discussion or plan prior to theMurder accused Celbert Reece was sentenced to 420 years in November 2016Bartica Massacre.Reece further clarified that “Fineman”, who used a “45 hand gun”, was the only person who shot the men at the Bartica Stelling.The matter was adjourned until this morning at the High Court where Attorney Hussain will conclude his cross-examination of the witness.Reece was sentenced to 420 years total imprisonment, while his cousin, Michael Caesar was handed a 1080-year cumulative sentence. The men, along with co-accused Mark Royden Williams, Dennis Williams and Roger Simon, were allegedly part of the “Fineman” gang which attacked the town and fatally shot 12 persons. Among those killed were Police Lance Corporal Zaheer Zakir and Constables Shane Fredericks and Ron Osborne. Edwin Gilkes, Dexter Adrian, Irving Ferreira, Deonarine Singh, Ronald Gomes, Ashraf Khan, Abdool Yasseen, Errol Thomas and Baldeo Singh were the civilians killed.
John Carver has warned Newcastle United they MUST allow manager Rafael Benitez the same degree of control at the club in the Premier League as he’s had in the Championship this season, or risk losing him.Benitez has been hailed as a hero at St James’ Park after guiding the Magpies back to the top flight at the first time of asking, after their promotion was confirmed on Monday.However, there are still question marks over the Spanish boss’ future at the club.Benitez is understood to be seeking assurances over transfer funds and the club’s ability to be competitive in the top-flight.But Carver expects the former Liverpool chief to stay, saying it’s thanks to him the club is united for the first time in many years.“I have to say I’d be very surprised if he walked away from it”, the former interim manager told talkSPORT host Jim White.“He had some control over what he wanted to do this past year and I’m sure if the football club are wise enough they’ll give him that same control next year.“Obviously they’ll certainly need a war chest to get the squad up to standard for the Premier League, but I’m sure they will and I’m sure Rafa will be there. He’s taken to the club, he loves the club, he loves the fans and the fans love him.“It’s the first time in some time the club has been United.”Newcastle have of course spent big before – and it did not result in success.The club paid out more than £90million on players over the course of the 2015/16 season, including the likes of Andros Townsend, Jonjo Shelvey and Aleksandar Mitrovic, but it still didn’t stop them from being relegated from the Premier League.Carver has warned the club not to make the same mistakes in the transfer market this summer, and says keeping the ‘shrewd’ Benitez will be crucial to a long-term stay in the top-flight.He added: “If Mike gives him £100m in the summer, will that guarantee him staying in the Premier League?“Let’s not forget the season before that we spent almost £100m and we got relegated!“It’s about how you buy – buying wisely and buying the right players. This season is an example of that, we bought Championship players to get us out of the Championship.“Rafa is shrewd, he’s a clever man, he knows what he wants and he’ll know the type of player that will be suited to playing at St James’ Park in the Premier League.“I’m sure he’ll get the right player at the right price, and I’m sure they will build a squad that will maintain their Premier League status next season for sure.”Newcastle EXCLUSIVE – ‘He sees this as a long-term project’ – Rob Elliot confident Rafa Benitez will stay on as manager