TRINIDAD Y TOBAGO: COPS IN JAIL - EntornoInteligente

News day / As the officers made their way into court and later out of the courthouse, when the case was heard and adjourned, each had their faces and identity shielded by large towels or jerseys. They were all handcuffed.

The six policemen who were charged late Wednesday evening by WPC Greer Britton-Lawrence and PC Marcano of the TT Police Service’s Professional Standards Bureau — appeared before Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar in the Port-of-Spain Eighth Magistrates’ Court, just before midday.

Ayers-Caesar had to stand down the matter on the first occasion as the two officers who charged their colleagues were not present in court.

Even when she proceeded with reading out the charges against the six, the two complainants still did not put in an appearance to the ire of the chief magistrate, who described it as a disrespect to the court to lay charges and not attend court. The six officers — Dion Ottley of Bon Air Gardens, Arouca; Steve Williams of Heights of Guanapo; Brandon Thompson of Seeyjagat Trace, Tumpuna Road, Arima; Ryan Grandison, of Tunip Lane, La Horquetta; Ronald Samuel, of Duncan Trace, San Juan and Kevon Patrick of By-Pass Road, Arima — were not immediately granted bail and are to return to court next Monday when the chief magistrate will rule on whether she will accede to the application of the defence, or will have them remanded for the 120 days before they can be granted bail, in accordance with the Bail (Amendment) Act of 2015.

The six policemen were supported by family members as well as members of their unit; most of whom were in their NEDTF uniforms. The granting of bail was strongly objected to by police prosecutor Insp Winston Dillon who said his opposition was supported by the Bail (Amendment) Act of 2015. He reminded the chief magistrate that the officers were armed with firearms when they committed the alleged acts.

The officers showed no emotion when the chief magistrate indicated that she will rule on their bail applications on Monday, which meant they would be remanded to the prison until that time. Their attorney Robert Vince Charles asked that the arrangements usually implemented for the remand of serving police officers be ensured, since his clients had “locked up many of the criminals” currently on remand in prison.

Earlier, Charles reminded Ayers-Caesar that his clients were before her on the presumption of innocence, and urged that she not fall for the “mischief ” created by the Bail (Amendment) Act of 2015, and punish the officers who were only carrying out their duties as serving members of the TT Police Service.

He said they were not on a criminal frolic, but on legitimate police business “armed” with the “tools of their trade.”

‘WE OWE THESE MEN’

“These are men of good character…

In fact we owe them a debt of gratitude for putting away many criminals,” Charles said, as he asked the chief magistrate to acknowledge that the 120 day no bail provision of the Bail (Amendment) Act was intended to target criminals carrying out crimes with unlicenced firearms, and not these policemen, who were in possession of their police-issued weapons.

According to Charles, if bail is denied it will send the wrong message that policemen cannot conduct their duties as they may face jail for 120 days, if someone makes an allegation against them.

The legislation restricts bail for a period of 120 days if a person is charged with an offence during commission of which a firearm was used or in his possession.

According to the charges, it is alleged that Ottley on December 13, 2015, while at the Santa Cruz Police Station did an act intended to pervert the course of justice by making a false entry in the North Eastern Division Task Force station diary, that on the previous day (December 12) he and other officers conducted an exercise at Tapin Street, Cantaro Village, Santa Cruz, and seized a pair of camouflage trousers in which six rounds of .38 special ammunition were found wrapped in a red towel in the side pocket, as well as a white plastic bag containing 13 packets of cocaine.

He was also charged with perverting justice by failing to deliver the items to the Forensic Science Centre, or providing a reasonable excuse for not doing so. Ottley alone is charged with those offences. Ottley, Williams and Grandison are alleged to have misbehaved in public office by threatening to charge Mark Rampersad with possession of cocaine, a firearm and marijuana on December 12, 2015, at Frederick Settlement, Caroni.

They also allegedly made similar threats to Farial Rambarath and Lolita Ramdawan, also on the same day at Caroni. Each of the three officers were charged separately.

On the same day — December 12, 2015 — the three police officers allegedly misbehaved in public office by robbing Rampersad of $125,000 and $55,000 in jewelry at Arbuckle Street, Caroni.

According to that charge, the officers were armed with a firearm and used personal violence against their alleged victim.

Constables Williams, Thompson, Samuel and Patrick are alleged to have misbehaved in public office at Kelly Village on January 5, this year, by making threats to charge Mary Duncan, Peabo Duncan and Kimberly James with possession of cocaine. Those four are further alleged, on the same day, to have robbed Peabo Duncan of $53,000 in cash and $4,400 in jewelry. They were also alleged to be armed with a firearm, used personal violence and falsely imprisoned, and held against their will, the two Duncans, James and a person named Stephen Waldron.

As the six accused men were leaving the courthouse, each were each handcuffed while they were being escorted into the van to be taken to the prisons. Each of the six accused had their head covered with towels or t-shirts to sheild their faces from media photographers.

Appearing for Grandison was attorney Sterling John.

TRINIDAD Y TOBAGO: COPS IN JAIL

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