Published: 26th of May, 2020 by Patrick Carpen.Last updated: October 17, 2023 at 16:12 pm
Lest We Forget…
The Crime that Shook the Nation
The Neesa Gopaul murder case is doubtless one of the most horrific, brutal, and chilling crimes in Guyanese history. Imagine being heartlessly attacked by the very person whose God-given duty is to love and protect you. Imagine a group of vacationers looking for a fun time out but ending up finding a human corpse stuffed in a suitcase at Madewini Creek along the Linden-Soesdyke Highway, and imagine a woman, with the help of her partner, stuffing her daughter’s lifeless body into a suitcase and then dumping it into a remote creek with dumbbells tied to it so that it wouldn’t resurface. These are some of the elements that compose the Neesa Gopaul murder case – a brutal crime which sent shockwaves throughout the nation of Guyana, South America.
On Sunday, 2nd of October, 2010, Neesa Gopaul’s badly mutilated body was discovered stuffed inside a suitcase under the waters of the Madewini Creek near to the Emerald Tower Resort. The exact date of the murder has not been determined; however Shareema Gopaul had reported the young girl missing on the 24th of September, 2010.
Neesa was only 16 years old at the time of her death. She was a straight A student at Guyana’s No 1 High School, Queens College, in Georgetown, Guyana, South America. Friends and classmates of Neesa Gopaul related that they didn’t notice anything unusual in Neesa’s relationship with her mother. In fact, they related several incidents where Neesa’s mom came to visit her and Neesa ran out and hugged her warmly. Little did anyone know that the little girl was being embraced by the claws of death.
The story of Neesa Gopaul began when her now deceased biological father met her mother working at a restaurant. Reportedly, the man fell in love with the young and charming Bibi Shareema Gopaul. He subsequently ended his first marriage and remarried with Shareema. The union produced two offspring – two beautiful girls of whom Neesa Gopaul was the elder.
But a few years later, Neesa father’s became sick and eventually died. There are rumors that he was poisoned slowly with an untraceable type of poison. However, we do not have any evidence to support this claim. It was later revealed that Shareema had been in a relationship with a man by the name of Jarvis Barry Small who was abusive to her and who soon moved in to live with her and the two young girls.
During the police interrogation, some witnesses suggested that the young girl Neesa was being drugged and raped by Mr. Jarvis Small – with the knowledge of her mother over whom Mr. Small seemed to have exercised near-total control. Speculatively, the motive for the murder might have been twofold: to silence Neesa from reporting the repeated rapes and to remove her as the only barrier which stood in the way of claiming ownership of the property which her father had bequeathed to her before his death.
Neesa was brutally murdered, her head battered beyond recognition, and stuffed into a suitcase. The perpetrators took her to the Madewini Creek along the Linden-Soesdyke Highway and dumped the suitcase with her lifeless body. Dumbbells were attached to the suitcase to ensure that it did not resurface.
The two criminals thought they had covered their tracks well. After all, how likely is it that someone would have found the girl’s body stuffed in a suitcase at the bottom of a Creek in an isolated region of Guyana? But in a miraculous unraveling, the truth was brought to the surface. Neesa Gopaul rose from her watery grave to nail her cold-blooded murderers.
On March 5th, 2015, both Shareema Gopaul and Jarvis Small were convicted of the murder of Neesa Gopaul. Jarvis was sentenced to 96 years in prison while Bibi was sentenced to 106 years behind bars. However, subsequent appeals shortened their sentences and Jarvis Small has now been released (more below). Many persons related that the two remained remorseless and maintained their innocence despite overwhelming evidence.
Prison Mate’s Testimony
During the Neesa Gopaul Murder Trial, a young woman, Simone De Nobrega, who had shared a prison cell with murder convict Bibi Shareema Gopaul, was called to the stand. She related that, during their time together in prison, Bibi had related some things to her about Neesa’s murder and her relationship with Barry (Jarvis Small).
According to Nobrega, Bibi first met Jarvis Barry Small at a gym. Small was a gym instructor, and Bibi said she was depressed and overweight and that Small “made her happy.” Small then wormed his way into Bibi’s life and started to manipulate her. He encouraged her to poison her husband using a slow, untraceable poison in the form of a tablet which was placed in his food. After some time, Bibi’s husband, “Javid,” became sick and was taken to the St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital. The doctors ran some tests on him and told them that Javid was OK except for a failing kidney.
Not too long after, Javid died at home and was buried the same day. Immediately after Javid died, Small moved in to live with Bibi. He allegedly also attempted to carry on a relationship with Neesa which angered Bibi and caused the two to fight. At one point, Neesa reported to the station that she was being raped by Small. She subsequently rescinded her statement to the police saying that she had lied about that.
Small then pressured Bibi to murder Neesa, and she eventually complied. On the day of the murder, they took Neesa and her younger sister out for a drive and, after lunch at Royal Castle, asked the girls if they wanted to go for a long drive. The girls responded in the affirmative and the “family” headed up the Linden-Soesdyke Highway.
When they arrived in the vicinity of Splashmin’s fun park, Small, who was sitting behind Neesa, placed a rope around Neesa’s neck and started to strangle her. Neesa started to kick the dashboard and steering wheel in the struggle as she held on to the rope and gasped, “mommy, mommy, don’t kill me!” The younger sister, Mary, was asleep next to Small and the music was up so that she would not be awakened by the noise from her sister. The windows were also wound up and the air conditioning was turned on.
Then Bibi turned into a trail heading towards Emerald Tower Resort and drove for approximately one mile after which they stopped. Jarvis Small held Neesa by the neck and took her out of the car as she panted for breath. Neesa fell to the ground with her arms stretched out and muttered desperately in a faint voice, “Mary, Mary, wake up!” Small then took a piece of wood from out of the car and dealt Neesa several blows behind her head. Subsequently, Small picked up Neesa’s lifeless body and loaded it into the car. They returned with the girl’s lifeless body home.
The next day, Bibi filed a missing person report for Neesa with the police. That night, the criminal couple stuffed their victim’s body into a suitcase, took it to the creek near to the Emerald Towers Resort and dumped it into the water, attaching dumbbells to the suitcase so as to keep it from resurfacing. (Read Full Testimony Here)
If you have any firsthand information about Neesa Gopaul’s personal life or murder, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or inbox us via our Facebook Page.
Update: 2nd of October, 2020: The convictions of Bibi Shareema Gopaul and Jarvis Small are being appealed. Jarvis Small is being represented by Attorneys Nigel Hughes and Ronald Daniels while Bibi Shareema Gopaul has asked for a time period up to the 15th of October 2020 to secure a lawyer. If Bibi is unable to secure a lawyer by that time, the state will provide one for her.
Update: 31st of August, 2021: In an appeal heard by Chancellor of the Judiciary, (ag) Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, and Justices of Appeal, Dawn Gregory and Rishi Persaud, the sentences of Shareema Gopaul and Jarvis Small were reduced to 45 years in prison. Jarvis Small was originally sentenced to 96 years in prison, and Shareema Gopaul to 106 years in prison. In other words, a whooping 51 years was sliced off of Small’s original sentence and a whooping 61 years were chopped off Shareema’s original sentence. The murder convictions, however, were upheld.
Update: 4th of December, 2021: Bibi Shareema Gopaul moves to the CCJ to appeal her conviction and prison sentence. She was granted special leave by the Caribbean Court of Justice to appeal her sentence at the same court. The CCJ is Guyana’s highest and final court of appeal.
Update: 19th of August, 2022: The Caribbean Court of Justice quashes Jarvis Small’s conviction and sends him walking out the court a free man. The CCJ, Guyana’s final court of appeal, also reduces Bibi Shareema Gopaul’s sentence to 25 years.