Police are looking for people they believe may have witnessed a violent assault that resulted in the death of a 36-year-old Sri Lankan man last month.
“We know, without a doubt, there were about 75 to 100 people present in Bananas that night,” said RCIPS Detective Superintendent Pete Lansdown. “We probably estimate from the CCTV and inquiries that we have made that there are 20 to 25 people who probably saw what happened. We’ve had to put in as much effort to find witnesses as we’ve had to find and identify the suspects in this case.”
Of the potential 25 witnesses, RCIPS officers have reduced the list to seven key people they would like to come forward.
“We would appeal to anyone who knows these people. If you recognise yourself, come forward, make yourself known,” said Lansdown. “We need witnesses in this case. One or two extra witnesses could make the difference between a successful conviction or an acquittal.”
Dinesh Asanka Fernando Wannukawatta-Waduge died 30 Nov. following an altercation at Bananas nightclub on Eastern Avenue, George Town.
Three men have been charged in the incident. According to court documents, CCTV video shows the victim talking to a woman who was at the bar with one of the defendants. While speaking to the woman, he leaned towards her and rested his hand on the middle of her back. The documents revealed that he was “struck almost immediately” by one of the defendants. As he staggered away, he was pushed by several people, one of whom was identified as one of the other defendants.
After being escorted outside, another incident is said to have transpired. However, the camera’s view was obstructed and so the incident was not recorded.
Jeremy Ralph Parchman, 20, of West Bay, and Shimar Kelly, 22, of George Town, have since been jointly charged with one count of manslaughter. Kevin Parchman, 24, the brother of Jeremy Parchman, was charged with a single count of assault causing actual bodily harm.
Wannukawatta-Waduge’s death has left his wife, who is battling cancer, to raise their 4-year-old daughter.
“I’ve had contact with her [the victim’s wife] daily,” said RCIPS Detective Sergeant Lexine Welcome. “She would Whatsapp me, text me, and send me tons of photos daily, and ask me to get justice for her family.”
Urging witnesses to come forward, Welcome said, “I just want people to put themselves in the shoes of the family. Come forward, tell us what you know. It might be insignificant to you, but to the investigation it is just a piece of the puzzle that we are waiting for and it will make a big difference in the investigation.”
From domestic assaults to murder cases, a lack of witnesses has resulted in numerous acquittals in Cayman’s courts.
In June this year, William Isaac Ebanks-Romero walked free from a murder trial after the prosecution cited a lack of evidence to support the charges against him. In that incident, Dorrington Ebanks, 29, was gunned down on 25 Dec. 2018 at a West Bay party. Although multiple people were present, no one came forward as a witness.
“We do have established systems, methods, processes to protect witnesses if they need that level of protection,” said Lansdown. “I don’t think this case needs that, but if you have justifiable fears and worries, we can take steps to allay those fears.”
Wannukawatta-Waduge lived and worked in Cayman for five years at Guy Harvey’s Restaurant and Bar as a line cook.
The men charged with his death made their initial Summary Court appearance on Friday, 6 Dec. They were all remanded in custody and the matter was transferred to the Grand Court, where they are expected to make their next appearance on Friday, 13 Dec.
Click here to view images of the seven witnesses police are trying to trace.
Anyone with information can call the RCIPS at 649-2930.