GEORGETOWN – At the announcement of a guilty verdict, Hofosawa Rutherford, the woman who poisoned her two children collapsed in the prisoner’s dock before the judge, jury and courtroom of curious spectators.
Following less than two hours of deliberation, the jury returned to the courtroom; the mixed panel had arrived at unanimous guilty verdicts on two counts of manslaughter for which Rutherford was indicted.
Rutherford, 25, formerly of Supply, Mahaica, East Coast Demerara, had been charged for the unlawful death of her two children, 16-month-old Jabarie Cadogan Jr and four-year-old Odaceia Cadogan.
According to the details of the case, Rutherford had administered a pesticide, commonly referred to as “carbon tablet” to her children on March 27, 2014.
The woman had maintained that she is innocent of the crime and led an emotional defence telling the jury that she never poisoned her children, that she loved them and only gave them cold tablets which she brought from a man at Plaisance Bus Park.
However, relying on the testimony of government pathologist Dr Nehaul Singh the state attorneys, Tiffini Lyken, Abigail Gibbs and Shawnette Austin, contended that 16-month-old Jabarie Cadogan Jr, and four-year-old Odaceia Cadogan died as a result of pesticide poisoning.
Through the pathologist, the court heard that the pesticide given to the children is called aluminium phosphide, a highly toxic substance. Singh revealed that during the autopsy on the children a strong stench emanated from their stomachs. He said that the poisonous substance led to the children’s major organs being congested with blood.
Based on their verdict, yesterday, the jury obviously did not believe Rutherford’s story. They announced that she was guilty for unlawful killing of both children.
In clear disbelief at the verdict, the woman, who was standing a few feet away from the panel collapsed in the prisoner’s dock. The commotion caused several police ranks to rush to her assistance as she appeared to have lost consciousness. The officers administered Limacol in an attempt to revive her.
However, the woman stayed in the apparent state of unconscious for close to ten minutes. Then she emitted loud screams from the
docks; Rutherford stomped and screamed as she lay on the floor. She stayed until she was removed with the assistance of officers. The noise caused more spectators to converge to the courtroom.
In light of the circumstances, defence attorney Adrian Thompson requested an adjournment in the matter, pending sentencing. Justice Singh obliged the lawyer’s request. The matter was therefore adjourned until today at 1 p.m.
The matter, which commenced at the High Court on Monday saw a number of witnesses including detective Lawrence Thomas who told the Rutherford, in a caution statement, had told him she travelled to Georgetown on the day in question and bought three grayish tablets for cold from a man who was selling at the Plaisance bus park.
Rutherford told the detective that she stopped at her aunt’s residence and picked up her children before going home, where she gave half of a tablet to each of her children before ingesting the remaining two.
The children’s father, Jabarie Cadogan, also testified via Skype from Brooklyn, New York, where he had migrated to from Guyana in March 2012. The man, who appeared very emotional, said that he and Rutherford had shared a relationship, which produced the two children.
He said that before and after he migrated, he continued to support his children on a monthly basis by sending money via Western Union to their mother and sending home barrels with clothing and foodstuff.
The witness said that even after his relationship with Rutherford ended in November 2013, he continued to support the minor children.
According to Cadogan, sometime in December 2013, Rutherford called him and told him that she and her new partner were having problems and that she had reported the matter to the police.
Recalling March 27, 2014, Cadogan said that around 6:15 a.m. he received a text message from Rutherford who had wanted him to call her, but according to the witness, at the time, he informed her that he had no credit in his phone. He said that later that evening he received a call from Monica Sealey, Rutherford’s sister, who told him something.
He said, that as a result of what he was told, he travelled to Guyana on March 29, 2014. He recounted that on March 31, 2014 he was at the Georgetown Public Hospital Mortuary where he identified the remains of his two children.