The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has reduced from 45 years to 30 years the jail sentence imposed on 50-year-old Bibi Sharima-Gopaul and freed her younger lover, Jarvis Small, over the 2010 murder of Neesa Gopaul.
In 2016, Sharima-Gopaul and Small were found guilty of killing the 16-year-old after a trial before Justice Navindra Singh at the Demerara High Court. As such, they were handed 102 and 96 years imprisonment, respectively.
Dissatisfied with their convictions and sentences, the duo moved to the Court of Appeal (COA). In September 2021, the COA affirmed their convictions but reduced the jail term to 50 years each.
The duo was not satisfied with the ruling and moved to the CCJ - the Court of last resort for Guyana and mounted separate appeals.
The appeal was heard by the President of CCJ, Justice Adrian Saunders, and CCJ Judges Maureen Ragnauth-Lee, Peter Jamada, Jacob Wit, and Denys Barrow.
In delivering its majority judgment, the CCJ found that the sentence imposed by Singh on Shareema-Gopaul exceeded the life expectancy of a human being and was manifestly excessive.
In light of this, the Court held the view that a sentence of 30 years with parole eligibility, not before 15 years, would be suitable for Shareema-Gopaul while deducting time spent on pre-trial.
Sharima-Gopaul was represented by Attorney-at-Law Arudranauth Gossai, while Nigel Hughes and Ronald Daniels represented Small.
Small and Sharima-Gopaul were in a relationship, and at one time, Small had even lived with the 50-year-old woman at Leonora, West Coast Demerara (WCD).
Nessa’s body was found submerged in a suitcase in the Madewini Creek in the vicinity of the Emerald Towers Resort on October 2, 2010, and at the time, it was believed to be headless.
However, after a Post Mortem Examination (PME), it was revealed that the body was not headless but was instead clobbered beyond recognition.
Dumbbells similar to those seen in a gym owned by Small were found tied to the suitcase when the teen’s body was found.
In addition to the body, the teen’s passport, which was reported missing just days prior to her death, was found.
The prosecution had stated that the teen was killed between September 23, and October 4, 2010, at Madewini, Linden-Soesdyke Highway.