Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 2nd 2017 Contents A4 news
guardian.co.tt Thursday, February 2, 2017
A Venezuelan who
brought almost $2
million worth of
high grade cocaine
into this country 13
years ago was spared a
jail term yesterday and
instead fined $50,000 for
Roberto Jose Manrique, 43,
was sentenced by Justice Althea
Alexis-Windsor who ordered him
to pay $10,000 in a week and the
balance in six months.
If he fails to pay the fine, Man-
rique will be jailed for two years.
Manrique, who is now a fish-
erman, fish vendor and proprie-
tor, with a wife and five children,
was arrested back in June 2004.
He initially pleaded not guilty
when the matter came up in the
San Fernando Third Assizes, a
jury empanelled and Ag Snr Supt
Totaram Dookhie gave evidence.
However, yesterday he changed his
plea to guilty and the judge direct-
ed the jury to return a guilty plea.
The State's case, led by prosecu-
tor Maria Lyons-Edward, was that
members of the Firearm Interdic-
tion Unit, including Dookhie and
Cpl David Simon, went on a sting
operation at Rancho Quemado
where they arrested a policeman
with a quantity of cocaine. They
then went to Beverly Trace where
Manrique was staying.
On seeing the police, he said:
"Ah now realise I get sell out be-
fore you upset my house I go carry
you for it but don't lock me up."
He took the police to where he
was hiding the four packets of co-
caine, weighing 4.25 kg.
When cautioned by the police,
he said: "Things difficult in Ven-
ezuela so I bring that to sell."
In asking for leniency, his attor-
ney Ian Brooks instructed by attor-
ney Jason Jackson, said his client
had never had any other matter in
court and it was a one-off incident.
He said Manrique had fallen on
hard times, but he was now earning
an honest living. He asked for a
fine between $15,000 and $20,000.
However, Lyons-Edwards found
that the sum was insufficient to re-
flect the seriousness of the offence
and to act as a deterrent to would-
be offenders. The judge said her
starting point of sentencing was
four years imprisonment.
However, after considering sev-
eral factors including the age of the
matter, his guilty plea and his pre-
vious good character she imposed
Police file yet to
reach DPP's office
The Office of the Direc-
tor of Public Prosecutions
(DPP) is still waiting on
homicide detectives to
submit their file relating
to the investigation into
the murder of Republic Bank
Ltd employee Shannon Ban-
Appearing on murder ac-
cused Dale Seecharan's second
court appearance on Monday,
Assistant DPP George Busby
said that his office was yet to
receive the expedited police
file on the case. He said the
file was expected to be handed
Busby told Chief Magistrate
Marcia Ayers-Caesar that by
Seecharan's next court appear-
ance, next month, he should be
able to tender the statements of
the key witnesses into evidence
and disclose those documents
to Seecharan's attorney.
Seecharan's attorney, Larry
Williams, had previously com-
plained about the slow pace
of prosecutors in the case and
their failure to disclose evi-
dence against his client in a
"It has been about a month
now that this man has been
charged and up to now the file
has not reached the Office of
the DPP? What was the police
doing for all that time, still
gathering evidence?" Williams
had said on January 17.
After the DPP's office re-
ceives the file and discloses
the statements to Williams,
Ayers-Caesar will then set a
date for the start of the pre-
Seecharan, a former em-
ployee of IAM Ltd, is accused
of murdering Banfield between
December 4 and December 9,
Banfield, of Santa Cruz, went
missing on December 5, after
leaving work at RBL's Prom-
enade Centre around 4 pm.
Although she told her mother
she would travel home after
going to Pennywise and IAM
on Charlotte Street, she did not
make it home.
Four days later, her decom-
posing body was found in the
storeroom of IAM by employ-
ees. A post-mortem revealed
that she had been smothered.
Seecharan, 36, surrendered
to police hours after her body
was discovered and was re-
leased and rearrested on two
occasions before he was even-
tually charged with the crime.
Seecharan will reappear in
court on March 8.
6 weeks after being charged
with bank worker's murder
Dale Seecharan at his initial court appearance. PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON
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