Trinidad e Tobago
POLICE are investigating a murder in Springvale where an unidentified man was shot in what police believe to be a drive-by shooting. Residents said that shortly after 1 pm, they heard gunshots and the screeching sounds of vehicles. When they checked, they saw the man slumped in the front passenger seat of a car at the corner of Vistabella Road and Hubert Ranch Street in Vistabella. There were numerous bullet holes on the left back door. Police believe the car crashed into a dirt bank and flipped before it came to a halt in the middle of the road.
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A father of three was yesterday sentenced to almost six years’ hard labour and disqualified from driving for 15 years after he pleaded guilty to causing the death of a mother of two in a hit-and-run on the Beetham Highway in 2010. Kevin Seecharan, 36, was sentenced by Justice Hayden St Clair-Douglas in the Port of Spain Third Criminal Court. He pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving on July 12, 2010, when he hit Pamela Robinson’s car, causing it to spin out of control before flipping and crashing into a concrete slab in the median of the highway. At about 7.15 am that morning, Robinson left her Trincity home heading to work in her black Toyota Celica, when the back of her car was hit by another driver who had reportedly been driving dangerously, cutting in and out of the three-lane highway. She was thrown out through the back windscreen of her car and suffered massive head and internal injuries. She died after receiving emergency treatment at the Port of Spain General Hospital. Seecharan, the driver of the car which hit Robinson’s, did not stop and a month later, after speaking to his father, turned himself in to police at the Barataria police station. Robinson’s husband, Shelford, who was only five minutes behind his wife, driving in his vehicle when the accident occurred, was in court yesterday and spoke of the trauma of losing his wife. He also declined an offer of $30,000 compensation from Seecharan. On July 13, when Seecharan pleaded guilty, he was allowed to address the judge. He apologised to Robinson’s family, and expressed hope they would forgive him. “I know the pain I put them through. If I could re-write that day I would. Not a day goes by when I don’t ask the Lord for his forgiveness,” he said. St Clair-Douglas sentenced Seecharan to a total of eight years' hard labour, but applied the one-third discount for his guilty plea and the one month he spent in jail before he was able to access bail, leaving a sentence of five years, nine months for him to serve. He also disqualified him from driving for 15 years. Seecharan was represented by attorney Fulton Wilson.
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THE 41-year-old caretaker arrested on Tuesday has been granted $75,000 bail for allegedly having a gun and eight rounds of ammunition on an estate in Arima. The accused appeared yesterday before Arima magistrate Joanne Connor and pleaded not guilty to the two charges. Police from the Northern Division Task Force searched the premises at Orange Estate, Heights of Aripo, where they allegedly found the Walther pistol and eight rounds of 9mm ammunition. He was the only person on the estate and police arrested him. PC Brewster laid the charges. Yesterday, attorney Terry Boyer applied for bail for the accused man. The attorney told the magistrate that his client has no pending matters or previous convictions. Boyer said his client has a fixed address and is not a flight risk as he does not have a passport. Apart from the $75,000 surety bail, the magistrate gave a cash alternative of $15,000 and adjourned the case to March 20. Legal officer Cpl Bain prosecuted.
TWO YEARS and nine months after completing his civic duty as a juror, a Claxton Bay man has been rewarded with a $20 cheque. A photo of the cheque was sent to Newsday which showed that it was fees owed for jury service done in May 2016. The cheque mandates that the recipient, who asked not be identified, travel to Port of Spain to cash the cheque at Central Bank, Eric Williams Complex. Thankfully the 60-year-old can access free PTSC buses, if he so choose. The other options include a minimum of $18 to arrive in the capital, if he decides to chance it by waiting on the highway for taxis coming from San Fernando. The other option is $8 more as he would have to travel to San Fernando and then take a $18 taxi to Port of Spain. After cashing his cheque, he then has to spend most of it getting back home. If he decides to stop off on the highway he will have $2 change, enough to but him less than half a doubles or four mints. The one time juror said he spent six days on he trial and he is awaiting the other cheques. "I ain't see the cheque yet my wife tell me its for $20 and its a stipend. That is madness imagine you doing cases like murder and where people could see your face for $20. I get call to jury duty about five or six times. In 2016 I went to court about three days in one matter and didn't get picked and then another time and I get picked" the man said. According to The Juror's Handbook, under the subheading "Payment" anyone summoned to appear as a juror will be paid a subsistence allowance of $10 for everyday they attend court. A juror who uses public transport will be reimbursed all costs reasonably and necessarily incurred. When a juror uses their vehicles they will be paid allowances for use of the their vehicles normally paid to public officers under the Travelling Allowances Act. The past juror did not drive to court in 2016 and therefore would have been compensated for two days of service.
THERE will be no first, second or third place cash prizes for bandleaders in San Fernando, for Carnival 2019. The cash-strapped San Fernando Carnival Committee (SFCC) has decided to eliminate the traditional prize structure and pay appearance fees instead. San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello confirmed, “we would give an appearance fee to all of the bands. There will also be financial incentives in the various categories.” Faced with their current financial situation, Regrello said they have had to change the format somewhat but assured, “There is peace among the fraternity. What is encouraging to me is that they are willing to work with us in spite of all the challenges they have. We are working together, collectively.” Regrello’s statement followed a meeting he and convenor of the San Fernando Carnival Committee Naigum Joseph had with stakeholders on Tuesday to outline plans for Carnival 2019 and see what activities they could salvage. This after the committee received $233,000 from the National Carnival Commission (NCC) last Friday to manage Carnival celebrations in the city. NCC Chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters beat a hasty retreat after the disbursement of funds ceremony, as stakeholders were not pleased with the drastic reduction in allocation. On Friday just about $1 million - the first tranche of about $2 to $3 million allocated to regional Carnival -was disbursed to over 50 of those regional bodies. Regrello said he was hopeful that what they got was not their total subvention, but at least one-third of the allocation. Weeks before the reign of the merry monarch on March 4 and 5, pre-Carnival activities in San Fernando had to be put on hold because the SFCC could not budget without knowing the full amount of their subvention. Regrello said the NCC still owed them approximately $1 million for use of Skinner Park and prize money accumulated over several years. The SFCC also has an outstanding debt to pan and mas bands. Earlier this year, Gypsy threatened a withholding of subventions if there was no accountability. He identified the SFCC as one of the errant bodies, a claim since denied by Regrello. “We are waiting on the NCC to come back to us. We have submitted all our bills and hopefully, we would get that sorted out by the end of the year. “ The mayor said if they got the money NCC owed them, “We could settle our debt and reassess our situation and develop a new approach to where Carnival is and where it is going.”
The South West Regional Authority (SWRHA) has confirmed that the two CT Scan machines at the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) are still not working. In a statement the SWRHA said it was working “assiduously” to have the machines repaired soon and encouraged patients to utilise the authority's customer service hotline if they had concerns. “The Authority currently has two CT Scan machines, a 16-slice machine and a 64-slice machine, one of which is still on warranty. Unfortunately, both malfunctioned within a short time frame. The SWRHA has been working assiduously with the supplier to ensure that both machines are repaired in the shortest period of time. "In the interim, the organisation has made every effort to mitigate the situation by ensuring in so far as reasonably possible, that patients in urgent need of scans are accommodated at other public health facilities where this service is provided,” the statement read. The SWRHA said the parts required had been procured and were expected to be delivered and installed in the upcoming days. It said repair works in respect of the 64-slice CT scan machine was estimated to cost $100,000 and not $500,000 as stated in a Newsday article. There will be no cost to the SWRHA to repair the 16-slice machine. The authority also apologised for any inconvenience caused and encouraged patients to utilise its customer service desk or customer service hotline at 87-SWRHA (79742) to have any concern or suggestion addressed. Last week, hospital staff said the machines had been down for more than three weeks at great inconvenience to patients and doctors who were unable to fully diagnose and treat ailments. Former SFGH medical director Dr Anand Chatoorgoon suggested to Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh that instead of patients suffering, in the interim, while they awaited parts and repairs, they could borrow the perfectly modern CT Scans which were sitting idle at the Couva Children’s Hospital. Chatoorgoon said the delay in having the machines operational could cause overcrowding at the already congested SFGH, because if doctors could not confirm a diagnosis, they would be reluctant to release patients. He said, “You need laboratory and radiological tests to confirm a diagnosis before you start your treatment and/or discharge your patients. The tragedy of it all is that there is a modern-up-to-date CT scanner sitting idle at the Couva’s Children Hospital (CCH) that can be used. There are more state-of-the-art equipment at the CCH, MRI’s, Ultra Sound machines, machines for radiological procedures which are all idle. “CT scans cost in the thousands of dollars from $3,000 upwards depending on what area of the body requires scanning. Some people just can’t afford." The Couva Children’s Hospital, a legacy of the People’s Partnership government, is yet to be put into operation, four years after it was opened. Options are still be looked at by the present administration for what is the possible best fit for the hospital. Deyalsingh said government and The University of the West Indies are to set up a special-purpose company to run the hospital. Chatoorgoon called on the Government to put aside the politics and treat with “people who are catching their tails.”
A LA ROMAINE man was refused bail a short while ago for possession of a UZI sub-machine gun and three hand guns.
Magistrate Alicia Chankar, presiding in San Fernando magistrates' court, told Zephon Antonio Ali alias 'Porto', 27, of Temple Street, that the Uzi was a prohibited weapon which only the TT regiment and police service had. His arrest stemmed from last Saturday's anti-crime exercise spearheaded by Police Commissioner Gary Griffith in crime hotspots in west Port of Spain and parts of south Trinidad.
Chankar read the indictable charge to Ali, that he also had two Baretta and a Taurus guns. A third charge alleged that he was in possession 74 rounds of ammunition. The guns and ammunition were displayed in court and the magistrated noted their make and registration numbers.
Police prosecutor Cleyon Seedan told Chankar that Ali was charged by PC Roger Moses of the San Fernando CID with having four weapons. He asked Chankar to consider the purpose for having such dangerous weapons and the prevalence of gun-related crimes in TT.
In agreeing with the prosecution's submission, Chankar told Ali that she had to exercise discretion in deciding bail.
"No bail!," the magistrate said, but advised Ali that it was his constitutional right to apply to a judge in chambers for bail.
He was remanded into custody to reappear on March 20.
COUVA South MP Rudranath Indarsingh said there is a water crisis in his constituency and homeowners claim they are paying as much as $3,000 for a truckload of water. Indarsingh is appealing to the Minister of Public Utilities and the CEO of the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) to bring some relief to his constituents. Indarsingh said he had received complaints from residents in Indian Trail, Dow Village, Calcutta Road number 2, among other areas about the dire situation they are experiencing for over one week. He said calls to WASA to request a truck borne supply had fallen on deaf ears. Because of this, contractors are taking advantage of the situation and are charging homeowners and business concerns as much as $3,000 to supply a truck load of water. The MP said the crisis had spread to schools in the area. “This morning I got a call from teachers at the Couva West Secondary School with a request to use the Multi-Purpose Hall, next to my office, to host a function because there was no water at their school. “ “It seems as though WASA has collapsed under this Minister of Public Utilities Robert Le Hunte. People cannot get a daily supply of water. We don’t know what is happening with the Desalination Plant. Every month or so the Desal plant is down.” He said even though the country was warned that this would be one of the harshest dry seasons, “This is only the second month of the year. I shudder to think what would happen during the middle of the dry season. People are desperate and are paying exorbitant sums for water." Indarsingh said the dry spell had not only affected his constituency and referred to similar concerns raised by his colleagues, Dr Bhoe Tewarie in Caroni Central and by MP Rushton Parray in Mayaro.
IT is utterly irresponsible and preposterous for anyone to insinuate the unfortunate fire that occurred on Monday is in any way associated with the Government’s plans for the San Fernando waterfront re-development. Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis, in a media release today via the ministry’s corporate communications unit, said the claims of the Government attempting to move settlers for the development were unfounded. She expressed sympathy for the losses and said the authorities were looking into the matter. The release said: "One of the key projects is an upgrade of the fishing facilities to that of a leading world status for comfort and health of patrons. The minister reiterates, that to think to make this development happen we will resort to arson is ridiculous, irresponsible and groundless." The comments were in relation to claims made by the president of the San Fernando Fishing Co-operative Society Salim Gool on Monday about the fire on King’s Wharf which destroyed 11 shacks. Gool told Newsday he believed there was a great possibility the development had something to do with the fire. Other fisherfolk shared the same view. "On Monday January 2, the Urban Development Company of T&T (UDeCOTT) invited members of the fishing community to attend a consultation meeting to discuss the development of a fishing facility at Hatter’s Beach in San Fernando, Mr Salim Gool, was not in attendance to share his views then," the release said. [caption id="attachment_751584" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Fire Officers at the scene of a fire which destroyed the shacks of 11 fishermen at Kings Wharf, San Fernando. PHOTO BY ANSEL JEBODH[/caption] The minister said the project was the flagship project in the south of Trinidad and was one of the largest regeneration projects to date, with the aim of reviving the economic, social and cultural vitality of the city of San-Fernando and its environs. This "transformative project" includes opportunities, she said, for international and local tourism, expansion of the business sector, improved transportation facilities, development of leisure facilities, increased family-oriented spaces and activities as well as the preservation of historical assets, amongst others. At the heart of this project, is the aspiration of green growth, led by the city of San Fernando. The project is expected to include the reclamation of land at King’s Wharf North, at a cost of $57 million with a target completion date of November 2020, the construction of a mixed-use development inclusive of medium-income housing at Lady Hailes Avenue utilising public-private-partnership arrangements, the establishment of a small fishing facility and jetty along Hatter’s beach, among other things. The fire is believed to be as a result of arson. The affected residents said they lost thousands of dollars worth of fishing equipment and other personal items in the shacks used as storage facilities. A van and car were also scorched, and they want the Government to compensate them.
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A murder accused who was 16-years-old when she was charged and who challenged her detention at the Women’s Prison has lost her appeal at the Privy Council. In a written decision, the five judges – Lady Hale, Lord Kerr, Lord Wilson, Lord Hodge and Lady Black – questioned why the appeal before them was even pursued since the accused turned 18 in 2016 when the high court and the court of appeal ruled in her case. “Astonishingly, this is an appeal, brought as of right, against an interim order made by the Court of Appeal in constitutional and judicial review proceedings as long ago as November 2015, with judgment delivered in April 2016. The proceedings themselves were heard in February 2016 and judgment delivered in May 2016. “Even by then, the acute dilemma to which the unusual facts of the case gave rise had passed. In such circumstances, the Board asks itself whether it was appropriate for this appeal to be pursued, as it serves no useful purpose other than to draw attention to the dilemma in question,” Lady Hale wrote in the opening paragraph of the ruling. The accused was 16 years old when she and her younger brother were charged with the murder of Dulraj Deodath. Under the Bail Act, a person charged with murder cannot be granted bail and when she first appeared in court, she was remanded by former chief magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar to the Women’s Prison, Arouca. After certain sections of the Children’s Act 2012 were brought into force in May 2015, she turned 17, and filed a lawsuit, through her attorney Anand Ramlogan, SC, challenging her detention since the act provided that a court should remand a child, who is not released on bail, to a community residence. The matter was dealt with promptly by Justice Devindra Rampersad who on September 2, 2015, gave various directions which included an order that the Children’s Authority conduct an evaluation and report in respect of St Jude’s School for Girls (then an industrial school) or such other facility which might qualify as a community residence with a view to identifying a suitable community residence. The Children’s Authority filed evidence that there was no suitable centre for accommodating the appellant in accordance with the Children’s Act, and Rampersad refused to grant conservatory orders that would breach the Bail Act and the Children’s Act. In April 2016, appellate court judges Peter Jamadar, Allan Mendonca and Nolan Bereaux, ruled that Rampersad had the power to grant the mandatory orders made. They also rejected her argument that the State had lost the power to detain her and she should be released into the custody of her mother. Her and her brother’s substantive constitutional claims for redress were heard by Justice Vashiest Kokaram and he ruled on May 24, 2016. He declared that the State had no jurisdiction to remand her to the adult women’s prison and quashed the order. He also declared that decision violated her constitutional rights and awarded her damages for cruel and unusual treatment or punishment. When he did so, she had already turned 18. “That is why the dilemma had passed and no useful purpose can be served by pursuing this appeal: appeals are against orders, not against the reasons given for making them,” Lady Hale ruled. Kokaram’s order for compensation was overturned by the Court of Appeal in December. Nevertheless, Lady Hale said the local appellate court, when considering the balance of harm, took into account the best interest of the appellant by not releasing her to her mother’s care and the law of the land as it related to bail. “It also took into account that the appellant was almost 18 years-old and thus close to no longer being a child and that attempts were being made to bring her accommodation “as close as is possible in an adult prison to the standards now applicable to minors held on remand,” the judgment said. Lady Hale said when considering the balance of harm in cases involving children, the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration as required by article 3.1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. “The Board needs no convincing that it is not in the best interests of any child to be incarcerated in an adult prison, mixing with adult offenders, and subjected to same accommodation and regime to which they are subjected.” But she added, article 3.1 did not mean that the best interests of the child are the paramount consideration. “They can be outweighed by the cumulative effect of other considerations as long as no other consideration is treated as more important.” In dismissing the appeal, Lady Hale said they were not concerned “with what happened next, with whether the order made by the Court of Appeal was complied with, and with the current state of the law and practice relating to the detention of children in TT.” “It can only express the hope and expectation that TT is doing its best to comply with its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, an international instrument which has done so much to educate us all in the special status and needs of all our children.”
Police Road Safety Co-ordinator Constable Brent Batson is this morning urging passengers to do their part in speaking out against reckless driving, by correcting their drivers when they break the law.
Speaking at this morning's police press briefing on Sackville Street, Port of Spain, Batson told reporters that for the year thus far, 21 people have been killed in road traffic accidents, compared to nine, for the same period last year. The increase he said represented a rise in deaths by 133 per cent.
He said this year was also the first time in history that passengers was the largest category of road deaths.
"I want to take this time to remind passengers in vehicles that they have a key part in identifying when your driver is displaying high risk behaviour and intervening. Whether it is a taxi, your friend, whoever it is, let them know that you're not comfortable the way you're being driven.
"You don't have to stay quiet, it's your life. You're going to be part of the outcome no matter what decision that the driver makes."
Batson also said there was an element of denial on the part of some drivers as they often challenged the decision of police who stopped them for breaking the law.
He urged drivers to be mindful of the law and show consideration to other drivers and their passengers on the roadway not only for the Carnival season but year round.
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Two men are being treated for gunshot wounds they received during a drive-by shooting at Mentor Alley, Laventille, on Tuesday night. Police said shortly before 7 am, painter Joel Walker, 33