Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 16th 2014 Contents A5
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
For a second straight day, Ren-
nie Coolman, the widower of
Central businesswoman Vindra
Naipaul-Coolman was placed
under the spotlight in his wife s
murder trial as he endured hours
of gruelling cross-examination
Despite being bombarded by a
multitude of piercing questions,
ranging from his personal finances
and relationship with his deceased
wife to his payment of a $75,000
bribe to avoid being prosecuted in
the case, Coolman maintained his
composure and calm disposition
throughout the hearing.
However, the intense and some-
times irrelevant questions being
posed by the attorneys appeared
to take a toll on Justice Malcolm
Holdip who seemed visibly frus-
trated as he attempted to rein them
in while curtailing their inquires
to the issues relevant to the case.
The repetitive questions from
the four attorneys, who questioned
Coolman yesterday, also appeared
to have a negative effect on jurors,
who looked tired, were yawning
and fidgeting in their seats, by the
end of the hearing yesterday after-
From the start, defence attorney
Mario Merritt, who is representing
two of the dozen accused men
accused of murdering the former
supermarket chief executive, picked
up where he left off on Monday
as he continued to question the
status of the couple s marriage.
Merritt: Were you resentful of
Coolman: In what sense?
Merritt: She was successful in
Xtra Foods and in public life. Cool-
man: Yes, that s right.
Merritt: When she died did she
leave a will?
When asked if he inherited from
his wife s estate after she was
declared dead, Coolman said yes,
but gave no further details on his
Merritt again quizzed Coolman
on why he did not contribute to
the initial $122,000 ransom pay-
ment that was paid for his wife s
Merritt: What prevented you
from offering one month s salary?
Coolman: Nothing prevented
me from offering one month s
He also questioned Coolman on
a piece of property which he was
planning to purchase with his wife
which Merritt said he (Coolman)
refered to as a "love nest" during
an interview with this newspaper
several years ago.
Coolman admitted he still went
through with the deal even after
she was kidnapped on December
Attorney Collin Selvon went
next and initially focused his atten-
tion on a house in Canada which
Coolman initially claimed was used
by his son, Riaz, before he clarified
his earlier statement by saying it
was bought by him and his wife,
a year before her disappearance.
Coolman also claimed when he
and his wife s brother, Ryan,
received a phone call from his
wife s alleged abductors, a day after
she was taken, he suggested asking
them to ask Vindra for the address
to the house in Canada to prove
that she was still alive.
Selvon also questioned why
Naipaul-Coolman s brother was
allowed to answer the telephone
calls pertaining to a ransom for
her release, instead of him.
Coolman repeatedly said he fol-
lowed the instructions of the police
and her family members who vol-
unteered to deal with the calls.
"I relied on the expertise of the
Anti Kidnapping Unit officers that
were there," Coolman said.
Yesterday s hearing ended with
the cross-examination of attorney
Ian Brooks who questioned Cool-
man on the bribe he paid to
woman, who promised to bribe
prosecutors to not "innocently
prosecute" him in the case.
Brooks: "When you were about
to pay the money, did you know
that was reprehensible?"
Coolman: "I was told that I
would be innocently charged for
kidnapping and murder of my
When pressed further, Coolman
said: "I did it to protect myself and
my family. It was an emotional
response. If I went to jail...", before
being stopped by an objection from
Brooks will continue his cross-
examination when the trial con-
tinues this morning.
High Court Judge Malcolm
Holdip has issued a stern warning
to media personnel covering the
high-profile murder of central
businesswoman Vindra Naipaul-
He gave the reprimand yesterday
after prosecutors raised issues with
television reports on Naipaul-Cool-
man widower Rennie Coolman s
testimony in the trial that were
broadcast on Monday night.
The controversial reports relate
to Coolman s admission that he
paid a woman, purporting to be an
employee with the Office of the
Director of Public Prosecutions
(DPP), a $75,000 bribe to avoid
being prosecuted in the case.
The woman had claimed that
she would pay the bribe to the DPP
and Senior Counsel Israel Khan,
the lead prosecutor in the case.
In giving the warning yesterday,
Holdip advised reporters and editors
to be accurate in their reporting on
He said: "I would like to indicate
that the television media stepped
clearly out of line. Editors must
ensure that reports received reflect
what happens in court."
Holdip also advised prosecutors
to request and review copies of the
reports to determine if the media
houses who published them could
be held liable.
"This may lead to further action,
criminal and civil. The contents of
the remarks may amount to con-
tempt of court," Holdip said.
He suggested that the television
stations review their reports and
possibly issue retractions if neces-
National Security Minister Gary
Griffith, denying claims by the Police
Social Welfare Association, says the
Rapid Response Unit (RRU) is one
of the most successful police initia-
tives seen in the last decade.
Dismissing calls by the association
to cease the operations of the RRU,
he said: "I was never one to throw
out the baby with the bathwater."
The association made the call after
an RRU officer allegedly shot and
killed 21-year old Naim Dean in the
back while he was reportedly running
The incident happened in the Glen-
coe area last Friday night when the
RRU officers were on routine patrol.
Relatives say the officers stopped
the vehicle in which Dean was trav-
elling with three other men, searched
them and slapped Dean. Dean was
shot as he ran off into the bushes
after being slapped by the officer.
The incident has ignited fury from
relatives, the Movement for Social
Justice and members of the public.
The police association says it hap-
pened because the Special Reserve
Police (SRP) who are drafted into the
unit are not properly trained for their
new responsibilities. The association
is charging the RRU is a specialised
unit but the officers training does
not come up to the standard of even
a regular police officer.
Association president, Inspector
Anand Ramesar, said they had warned
Police Commissioner Stephen
Williams that such incidents would
The SRP officers were called out
late last year to form the new unit
after the escalation in crime and the
personnel were trained for six weeks.
Griffith, responding yesterday to
questions from the T&T Guardian on
the association s call to shut down
the RRU until the retraining of SRPs,
said: "One would not want to shut
down a whole unit because of one
He said the six-week training period
for SRPs was mandatory, adding:
"Some of them have been SRPs for
a long time."
Some merit in complaint
The minister said, however, he
understood the concerns of the asso-
ciation and noted there was "some
merit" in what they said.
Griffith said he would provide train-
ing for officers on how to minimise
the use of excessive force but it would
be for "officers across the board."
Listing the merits of the RRU (see
box below), he said: "The RRU has
proven to be one of the most positive
initiatives seen over the last decade."
Commenting on the shooting of
Dean and the association s call, Griffith
observed that they were speaking as
though it was proven the officer was
He added: "When an officer shoots
someone in the back, he is not auto-
matically guilty. There were situations
in which regular officers shoot people
in the back.
"This happens all over the world.
But you don t shut down the whole
Police Service because of that."
Griffith said it was his job, however,
to enhance the standards of the Police
Service and he intended to introduce
soon proper training for all officers,
SRP and regular.
Williams, asked for a response yes-
terday, said, "I have no comment to
make on anything the association
RRU head, Snr Supt Earl Gonzales,
Gamba Omari Lynch, left, of the Beetham Gardens Police Youth Club,
serenades acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams, second from right,
and Senior Supt Sharon Blake, right, during the launch of the National Gas
Company's (NGC) sponsorship programme for Police Youth Clubs at the Police
Academy, St James, yesterday. Looking on is NGC's community relations
officer Fofi George. PHOTO: KEITH MATTHEWS
Griffith on not suspending RRU:
Best unit in a decade
• Members of the public get immediate
• The unit has proven to be very
effective in providing an ultimate
deterrent to criminal elements.
• Statistics show it has been an effective
tool in the reduction of major criminal
• Resulted in preventing an array of
misdemeanors from turning into
• Officer visibility has made it one of the
most effective methods in dealing with
Judge warns media on reporting
on his finances
WHO'S IN COURT
The dozen men before the
jury and Justice Malcolm
Holdip are: Allan "Scanny"
Martin, twin brothers Shervon
and Devon Peters, siblings
Keida and Jamille Garcia and
their older brother Anthony
Dwayne Gloster, brothers
Marlon and Earl Trimmingham,
Ronald Armstrong, Antonio
Charles, Joel Fraser and
Lyndon James. A 13th man,
Raphael Williams, was charged
with the crime but died in
prison in 2011 of complications
from sickle-cell anaemia.
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