A Freeport man was chopped to death in his sleep by a relative at his home on Sunday morning. Surviving members say if the police had taken away the suspect three days before, when they reported one of his many attacks on the victim and his wife Pauline, Deodath Gopie might still be alive and the relative would not be in jail.
Gopie, 58, a PTSC employee, was chopped while he slept at his Grant Trace Extension, home, Freeport, sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning.
His sister-in-law Lisa Ramlal told Newsday while she was saddened by the turn of events, Gopie’s death had ended over 30 years of abuse her sister suffered at his hands.
Ramlal said there was a history of physical, mental and substance abuse in the Gopie household.
She said the suspect had a history of mental illness and had spent time in rehabilitation centres and at the St Ann’s Mental Hospital. She said he usually took medication to stay calm, but had stopped taking it and as a result, had become violent again.
“My sister never had an easy life with that man (Gopie) since she married him. He abused her, he abused alcohol. He abused their two children.
“When she was younger, this place was surrounded with a lot of sugar cane, and when he beat her she would run into the cane patch in the night and hide until the next morning.”
Ramlal said her sister left the marital home and went abroad for almost seven years, but Gopie went to the US and brought her back home.
“Money was always a problem. Even though he was working, he always wanted more from her. When her first son died about seven years ago, he left a roti-making business, which she and her other son managed.
“When it started making money, her husband joined and kept demanding more. I understand they had an argument over money up until on Saturday.”
Ramlal said over the years, the suspect, who lived in the house with them, was affected by the constant abuse and became depressed and also abusive to Gopie and his wife.
She recalled one such incident last Thursday, when the suspect went on the rampage, attacking her sister and brother-in-law and locking them out of the house.
“My sister called the police. They came, spoke with him, but said they could not arrest or take him to St Ann’s as they had requested.
"This is not the first time my sister called and the police was not able to do anything to help them. If they had taken him away, who knows, my brother-in-law might have been alive today.”
Ramlal said the suspect might have also intended to kill her sister on Sunday morning, but her life was spared as she woke up to use the bathroom around the same time he was about to enter her bedroom.
Ramlal's sister was being interviewed by the police when Newsday visited on Sunday morning, but she authorised Ramlal to speak on her behalf.
Ramlal said her sister was about to leave her room when the suspect opened the bedroom door.
“She said he had something in his hand, which he tried to hide from her. I think it was the weapon he used to chop her husband. When she put on the light, she saw him covered with blood. She became frightened and struggled to close the door to her bedroom while he tried to force it open.
“She said she did not know where she got the strength to shut the door and lock it and then call the police.”
PC Ramdeen and officers from the Freeport Police Station responded and entered the house through a back door.
They found the family's dog, Lilly, dead from chop wounds in an open area of the house.
Gopie’s body, wearing only boxer shorts, was lying face down on a bed with multiple chop wounds.
The 31-year-old suspect was detained.
“My sister, who was sleeping in another bedroom, did not know if her husband called out for help, because she has a hearing problem. When she called the police, she did not know that her husband was already chopped to death.
“It was only when she came outside of the flat house when the police arrived and pulled open the louvres to the bedroom in which he slept, she realised he was killed.”
Ramlal, who said she had walked away from an abusive relationship, appealed to abusers to stop harming their loved ones.
“People who have families should humble themselves and love their husbands, love their wives, love their children. We need to live in love and peace so your children would also grow up in peace and love.”
On Sunday, National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds commented on the number of recent domestic disputes that had resulted in murder.
Speaking on the Eye on Dependency programme on I.95.5 FM, Hinds referred to the death of Deodath Gopie by the hand of a relative on Sunday morning.
“We are too violent a people,” he said.
He also commented on the death of security guard Adana Simmons of La Brea, who was stabbed to death by her cousin, with a pair of compasses, which Hinds said is an instrument that should be used to teach life skills, architecture and drawing.
Instead, he said, “It was used to commit a murder of a family member. We have another situation where two cousins killed each other in a house, with a knife.”
He attributed this to: “the drugs some of them are using, videos some of them are watching, the violence that is come to our children, imbuing them with not only violent thoughts and lawlessness, sometimes it all adds in with these sets of guns.”