Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 15th 2017 Contents A12 news
guardian.co.tt Thursday, June 15, 2017
Man in court for
A labourer charged with the murder
ofRio Claro gardenerBhim Bhipram who
was shot and his house set on fire four
months ago appeared in court on Tuesday.
Linton Cooper, 33, ap-
peared in the Rio Claro
Magistrates Court, after he
was charged on Monday on
the advice ofthe Director of
According to release
by the T&T Police Ser-
vice, Cooper allegedly had
a dispute with Bhipram,
52, of Guayaguayare
Road, over a bag of dasheen. He is accused
on February 6 of destroying's Bhipram
house by fire. The gardener's charred body
was subsequently discovered in the burnt
out structure. His body also bore gunshot
wounds to the head and neck. Cooper, also
of Guayaguayare Roadwas subsequent-
ly arrested and charged byCpl Suresh
Ramsahai,of Homicide Bureau of In-
vestigations, Region 2. The matter
was adjourned to July 11.
15 years in jail for
An Arima man was yesterday sentenced
to 15 years in prison for stabbing death of
a 14-year-old in 2008.
Leon Matthews, who was 16-years-old when he
committed the crime, was sentenced in the Port-
of-Spain High Court by Justice Carla Brown-An-
Matthews is expected to be released in five years
and 11 months as the time he spent in remand before
he was convicted of manslaughter earlier this year
was deducted from his sentence.
As a condition of his sentence, Matthews was or-
dered to participate in anger management counselling
for the remainder of his time in prison.
Brown-Antoine said it was necessary as prison
officers, who testified in his sentencing, claimed
that he had unresolved anger management
issues which led to him being involved in
several violent incidents during his in-
carceration in remand.
Matthews was accused of killing
Alonzo Pierre, on May 15, 2008,
while they both were attending
According to evidence pre-
sented in his trial, around 7.35
am on the day of the incident,
Pierre, a Form Four student of
the Barataria Senior Compre-
hensive School, was waiting on
a maxi taxi with two friends at
St Joseph Road, Arima.
Pierre reportedly walked
over to Matthews, who was also
waiting on transport and slapped
him. Matthews took out a knife from
his knapsack and stabbed Pierre four
times to his chest.
Pierre was taken to the Arima Health
Facility where he died while receiving
treatment. During his murder trial before
Brown-Antoine, the jury heard that Pierre
had attacked Matthews as he (Matthews) had
slapped his friend two weeks before.
Matthews' attorneys claimed that he was
acting in self defence.
This defence was rejected by the 12-mem-
ber-jury, who found him not guilty of mur-
der but convicted him of the lesser offence of
manslaughter as they believed that there was
provocation in the case.
Matthews was represented by Selwyn Mo-
hammed and Kinda Jacob while Nigel Pilgrim
and Giselle Heller-Ferguson prosecuted.
over drug charge
A High Court judge has
advised the Defence Force to
establish a clear disciplinary
procedure for the removal of
officers charged with criminal
Justice Frank Seepersad
gave the advice in the
Court on Tuesday
after rejecting a law-
suit from a former
soldier who claimed
to have been treated
unfairly when he was
dismissed from the
Regiment after being
charged with marijua-
na possession in 2010.
Delivering an oral
judgement after the trial of the case brought by
Kevin John ended, Seepersad noted that a major
issue which arose was a lack of legislation or reg-
ulations stating in what circumstances a solider
like John could be informed that "their service
was no longer required"
He suggested that the Chief of Defence Staff
(CDS) should consider the issue and publish a clear
list of specific circumstances for dismissal for drug
use as the Defence Act only lists intoxication as
However, Seepersad noted that in John's case
their was no evidence that he was treated unfairly
or deprived of his rights and freedoms by the Defence
Force and that he was afforded the same treatment as
others soldiers in similar circumstances.
He noted that John admitted of being aware of the organi-
sation's zero tolerance policy on drugs when he committed the
offence and acknowledged that his ability to operate weapons
and equipment may have been impaired by drug use.
"Public confidence is of utmost importance. So long as the
use of illicit drugs remains a criminal offence, it is the public's
expectation that an officer who provides an invaluable service
operate under strict compliance of the law," Seepersad said, as
he described the action taken against John as fair, reasonable
Seepersad also noted that John was not dishonourably dis-
charged by the Defence Force and would have a clean record if
he is eventually free of the civilian charge of drug possession,
which is still pending.
According to the evidence in the case, John and his wife Natalie
Patterson were arrested after police executed a search warrant
of the home in Cascade and allegedly found 51.8 grammes of
After he was released on bail, John was taken by Defence Force
personnel to its Camp Cumuto base where he was ordered to
undergo drug testing.
He reportedly tested negative on two unsupervised tests but
was compelled to do a third in which his sample was given in the
presence of an officer.
The reactive test reportedly showed the presence of marijua-
na and cocaine and the sample was sent to the Forensic Science
Centre (FSC) for additional testing.
In his lawsuit, John was claiming that the Defence Force began
the process of dismissing him immediately following the posi-
tive internal test without the results of the second independent
testing from the FSC.
During the trial several senior members of the organisation
testified that the disciplinary process was started early due to
its protracted nature and stated that it would have been dis-
continued in the event that the second test eventually returned
with a negative result.
John's lawyers also contended that the process was un-
constitutional as he was not given an opportunity for him
or a legal representative to challenge the results of the test
before the dismissal process was commenced.
In his judgment, Seepersad made note of John's com-
plaint of being detained in a cell by the Defence Force after
he was granted bail and was awaiting the drug testing.
While he criticised the action of denying John his
liberty, Seepersad noted that John did not raise the
issue of false imprisonment in his case. (DA)
Justice Frank Seepersad
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