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Deadly vigilante justice?

DANGRIGA, Thurs. Aug. 6, 2015–According to police, on Monday, August 3, Anwar Douglas Garbutt, 34, was found lying face-down on the street side of Isla Road, apparently dead. Police say that he was found “with both elbows tied to the side of his body with a brown leather belt.”

A police press release dated Tuesday, August 4, 2015 stated that, “… between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m., four male persons were reportedly seen on Mango Street beating him with a stick and dragging him from under a house and unto the streetside, [where] they tied both his elbows beside his body and continued to beat him … police have since retrieved 2 pieces of 2×4 lumber measuring about 6 feet in length from the scene.”

Today, Thursday, police have reported that a post-mortem exam conducted on Garbutt’s body confirmed that he died of hemorrhaging due to head trauma.

The autopsy was conducted yesterday at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital by Doctor Mario Estradabran.

In outlining a reason for the deadly attack on Garbutt, police, in their Tuesday release, said that they “responded to a report of a male person exposing his person in the Back-a-Town area of Dangriga, and that persons were chasing him.”

A later report to Amandala by police was that the person that Garbutt had been exposing himself to was a 5-year-old girl, and a resident of the area also told Amandala that while he did not actually witness the incident, he heard a young girl “bawl out,” and was told by others there that Garbutt had exposed his member to her.

Police say that an angry mob chased and caught Garbutt under a house, where he was trying to hide, and they dragged him onto the road, tied him up and beat him.

Police have since arrested four men and are looking for one more as they try to pinpoint all who may have participated in the deadly beating of the Barrack Road, Belize City, resident. When the file that they are compiling as part of their investigation is completed, it will be sent to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for further directives.

Anwar Garbutt’s family, however, dispute the reason given by police for his death. They deny that he had exposed himself to the child, and say that even if that were so, there was no reason to beat him to death.

A family member close to Garbutt told Amandala that Garbutt “was loved by many girls and have girlfriends, so there was no reason for him to expose himself to little girls.” “He was tall and good-looking, and he was not mentally ill,” he said.

The relative said that reports to him from a witness in the area were that Garbutt was talking to a girl about 15 when a group of men passed and pointed to him, accusing him of stealing a gun.

Garbutt ran, he said, and they chased him, and one of them lashed him in the back with a piece of wood, but he stood up and fought with them.

When he realized the odds were against him, Garbutt ran from them and took cover under a house, from where they pulled him out. He told Amandala that the men then beat him up, took down his pants and dragged him out to the street, where they continued to beat him.

This report, however, was not confirmed by police and it was rejected by an aunt, who said that she would stick to the report presented by police.

Garbutt’s brother, Enrique Carrillo, noted that if Garbutt’s pants were down, he could not have run from the men, and called on police to do a thorough investigation and arrest the culprits so that the family can get justice.

Carrillo said that many children live in their yard on Barrack Road, in Belize City, and never has any of them reported that Garbutt had exposed himself, or reported any sexual impropriety on his part.

Carrillo said that when he went to the morgue to witness the post-mortem exam of Garbutt’s body on behalf of the family, police did not allow him into the room.

However, the Rules of Inquest governing post-mortem exams state that although there is no provision in the law relating to coroners’ duties and responsibilities, that makes it compulsory for a coroner to assist relatives to view the body, most coroners do.

In rare circumstances, such as where there are seriously disfiguring injuries, the coroner may suggest that the family should not view the body, or that the way in which the body is viewed should be limited (for example, from behind a glass panel).

The Rules of Inquest also state that by law, the following people are entitled to be present at the post-mortem: a relative or their medically-qualified representative; a lawyer and anyone else representing the family; or a pathologist representing the family, if they have instructed one early enough. In many cases this will not occur at the initial examination, but the family’s pathologist may hold a second examination.

When asked by Amandala why the family member was denied entry to witness the post-mortem exam, Deputy Commander of Stann Creek District, Assistant Superintendent Mark Stevens, said that he was not aware of what had transpired at the morgue, but saw no problem with allowing a family member in the room if he or she so desired.

Carrillo said that Garbutt was abandoned by his mother when he was about 3 months old, and since then, she has not been seen or heard from, up to the present time. Carrillo said that they took care of the boy and he went to the Queen Street Baptist School and Church, and he grew up in a good, disciplined home.

Garbutt will be buried here in Belize City on Saturday at the Lord Ridge Cemetery.

According to police, Anwar Garbutt “was known to them” because he “had prior run-ins with the law,” but we could not find any records to indicate that he had been taken to court or sent to prison.

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