Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 1st 2016 Contents Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
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Eight of the men accused of mur-
dering businesswoman Vindra
Naipaul-Coolman almost a decade
ago, were yesterday acquitted at the
end of the longest and most expen-
sive trial in this country s history.
It took a 12-member jury sitting
in the Port-of-Spain Second Crim-
inal Court four hours to review the
evidence presented in the trial over
the past two years, before returning
not guilty verdicts for twin brothers
Shervon and Devon Peters, and their
older brother Dwayne Gloster, sib-
lings Keida and Jamille Garcia, Marlon
Trimmingham, Ronald Armstrong
and Antonio Charles.
Two of their co-accused Trim-
mingham s brother Earl and Lyndon
Charles---were not as lucky, though,
as the jury could not decide on a
unanimous verdict for both men,
forcing presiding Judge Malcolm
Holdip to order them to be retried.
As the jury foreman informed
Holdip of their decisions yesterday,
muffled screams and cries of relief
were heard from the accused men s
family and friends who packed the
public gallery to capacity.
While some of the accused men
wept openly and muttered silent
prayers, Earl Trimmingham and
Charles had dejected looks on their
faces. In a showing of solidarity, each
of the freed men patted their former
co-accused on their shoulders as
they were being led out of the court.
Yesterday s legal victory was
mixed, however, as only one of the
eight---Devon Peters---was immedi-
ately released and allowed to greet
jubilant relatives outside the Hall of
Justice on Knox Street.
The T&T Guardian understands
the other men were not immediately
released due to an administrative
error in their criminal tracing, which
incorrectly stated they were still
awaiting trial for Naipaul-Coolman s
kidnapping. The remaining men are
expected to be released from the
Port-of-Spain State Prison once the
error is corrected this morning.
The mix-up caused panic among
their relatives, who were confused
by the sight of Peters alone emerging
from the court.
"How come he get out and not
the others? What going to happen
to them now?" one woman said anx-
iously before her relative s defence
attorneys explained the issue.
In a brief interview after embrac-
ing his father for the first time in
almost ten years, Peters said he was
happy and relieved that "justice was
served" in the case.
"I just want to put this whole thing
behind me and start thinking about
how to start over my life," Peters
whisperered to media personnel.
Peters father, Anthony Gloster,
whose other sons, Shervon (Devon s
twin brother) and Dwayne Gloster,
were also acquitted by the jury, was
left almost speechless by the verdict.
"I always knew they were innocent.
I just want to hug my boys tight right
now," a teary-eyed Gloster said.
Naipaul-Coolman was abducted
from her home at Radix Road, Lange
Park, Chaguanas, on December 19,
2006. A $122,000 ransom was paid
by her family but she was not
released and her body has never been
The high profile trial had been
postponed several times in the past
as the accused men were unable to
retain attorneys to defend them.
Jury selection began almost three
years ago after the Legal Aid and
Advisory Authority instituted a spe-
cial arrangement where $45,000 a
month was allocated to retain both
an advocate and instructing attorney
for each accused.
The trial initially began with 12
accused men but was reduced after
Allan "Scanny" Martin was shot dead
after staging a daring prison break
in Port-of-Spain in July last year.
Joel Fraser was on trial until January
this year, when Holdip upheld a no
case submission from his attorneys,
who claimed the State had presented
insufficient evidence linking him to
Only one Vindra accused walks free immediately
Error keeps 7 in jail overnight
Earl Trimmingham...retrial ordered
Barbra Charles, mother of Antonio Charles, a former employee of the Water and Sewage Authority, speaks with
the media moments after the jury found him not guilty in the Vindra Naipaul-Coolman murder case yesterday.
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
A fair and just outcome.
These were the words used by both
defence attorneys and prosecutors to
describe the verdict in the Vindra
Naipaul-Coolman murder trial, which
ended yesterday with eight men being
acquitted and two others being
ordered to be retried.
Speaking with reporters immedi-
ately after the verdict, lead prosecutor
Israel Khan, SC, said: "The ordinary
God-fearing people that sat on this
jury had a reasonable doubt in the
case and they acquitted. You cannot
tell people if you have a reasonable
doubt acquit and when they do you
are angry about it."
Khan also defended the State s
prosecution of the accused men.
"The prosecution never wins or
loses. We present the case to the best
of our ability and leave it for the jurors
to decide," Khan said.
He also said the case should serve
as an example for those who have
suggested the abolishment of jury
trials to improve the criminal justice
"Trial by jury is more than an
instrument of justice, it ensures that
freedom lives. This is where the ordi-
nary God-fearing people get an
opportunity to participate in the crim-
inal justice system," he said.
His sentiments were supported by
defence attorney Ian Brooks, who
praised the efforts of the jury.
"Strength of character by a jury is
alive. The jury deliberated long and
hard and came to a just and right
conclusion," Brooks said.
"I think T&T should feel proud of
the persons who commit themselves
to jury service and the quality of per-
sons who give verdicts," Brooks added.
Several other defence attorneys
joined with Khan and Brooks to praise
the use of juries in trials.
Mario Merritt, who represented
three of the accused men and led the
defence team, said: "This verdict is
a tribute to our jury system. Our jury
system is alive and well and for those
who want it removed, they need to
Lawyers praise jury's work
Since starting presenting evidence
in the trial in March 2014, prosecutors
had claimed Naipaul-Coolman was
held captive in a red brick house at
Upper La Puerta, Diego Martin, shared
by Shervon and Devon Peters and
their brother Dwayne Gloster, before
she was killed, dismembered and her
body disposed of.
They relied on the evidence of their
main witness Keon Gloster, who was
allegedly present at the time of her
murder but did not participate.
However, Gloster was declared a
hostile witness after he repeatedly
claimed to be coerced by police into
implicating the accused men, most of
whom he is related to.
In his sworn statements, which
were tendered into evidence, Gloster
had allegedly told police that three
days after Christmas he went to the
house where he saw all the accused
men surrounding the former Xtra
Foods chief executive, who was sitting
on a pool table.
Gloster claimed that James was
interrogating her about her family's
failure to pay a larger ransom, when
he drew a gun and shot her in the
chest before inviting his co-accused to
assist him in dismembering her with a
rotary saw and burying her body parts
in a forested area of the community.
Besides his claims of coercion,
defence attorneys also alleged that
Gloster, who has epilepsy, was on a
cocktail of medication which would
have made him "suggestible."
The pool table was also a major
source of contention, as it was not
produced in court and several crime
scene investigators, who inspected it
weeks after her murder, said they did
not notice anything suspicious about
it. While all the accused men denied
any wrongdoing in their interviews
with police months after Naipaul-
Coolman's disappearance, Earl
Trimmingham admitted to seeing her
when she was taken to the
community but denied participating in
In addition to Gloster's evidence,
prosectors also relied on a roll of duct
tape and a pair of latex gloves which
were allegedly recovered by police in
and around the red brick house.
The items were sent to a laboratory
in England for testing and Naipaul-
Coolman's DNA was found on both.
Defence attorneys argued that both
items could have been planted by
police and neither had any fingerprints
on DNA samples which were linked to
the accused men.
Although prosecutors admitted
they had no evidence linking the men
to the businesswoman's abduction,
they presented a gun allegedly found
in Keida Garcia's house, which was
linked to spent shells recovered on the
scene of the kidnapping.
Garcia's mother, Rita, the only
witness called by the accused men,
claimed the gun was found by police
while she and her son were being
questioned by their colleagues outside.
She acknowledged that she signed
the search warrant which stated the
gun had been found in the search but
claimed to have not read it thoroughly.
Prosecutors were also forced to admit
that one of the officers who allegedly
found the gun had been accused of
fabricating evidence in an unrelated
drug trafficking case in the past.
HOSTILE WITNESS HURT CASE
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