Donald Rodney revisits scene of bomb blast that killed brother

Maintaining that the record of his testimony during his magistrate’s court trial for possession of explosives was flawed, Donald Rodney yesterday showed investigators the scene of the explosion which killed his brother Dr Walter Rodney on June 13, 1980.

Rodney, the lone witness to the fatal explosion, stated that he never gave any information during his unsworn statement about the direction he travelled with his brother while they tested the walkie-talkie device that contained the explosive.

He was at the time continuing his testimony before the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the death of his brother, where the disputed transcript of his statement during the trial was admitted as evidence. It contained directions that Rodney said were contrary to the one he gave about the movements of him and his brother on the night of the explosion.

Donald Rodney (second from left) stands in front of the White Castle Fish shop, the exact location where his car was parked on the night of the explosion.
Donald Rodney (second from left) stands in front of the White Castle Fish shop, the exact location where his car was parked on the night of the explosion.
Donald Rodney (right) stands beside his lawyer Keith Scotland as he showed the Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry Sir Richard Cheltenham (second left) and Commissioner Jacqueline Samuels-Brown (left) where his car was parked while he went to Gregory Smith’s house in Russell Street.
Donald Rodney (right) stands beside his lawyer Keith Scotland as he showed the Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry Sir Richard Cheltenham (second left) and Commissioner Jacqueline Samuels-Brown (left) where his car was parked while he went to Gregory Smith’s house in Russell Street.

Rodney on Wednesday told the CoI that the statement recorded in the official transcript of the trial was not his statement, including the purported claim that he was in possession of an explosive device and that Walter Rodney had the explosive device on his lap.

Rodney yesterday indicated that if they had followed the direction mentioned in the transcript that the magistrate recorded, then his car would have been parked in the opposite direction to the one it was found in after the explosion. He said his car would have been parked

Rodney also stated that during his unsworn statement during the trial, he did not see the magistrate taking notes. He added that the magistrate was promoted to a judge after convicting him for the possession of explosives.

Rodney relived the night of the fatal blast by walking the commissioners and attorneys through the area he travelled that night. He told them he had parked his car on Howes Street and went over to Russell Street, where Gregory Smith’s house was situated.

Rodney showed them the shortcut he took to get into the yard, before adding that Walter Rodney had chosen to remain in the car.

However, his spectators could not get into the yard where Smith’s house was because a new structure was blocking it. But they were able to see the door space where Rodney said he met Smith that night.

He indicated that after collecting the device from Smith, he went back into his car and handed the device to Walter Rodney, who then told him that it was not necessary to follow Gregory Smith’s instruction to take the walkie-talkie to the specified locations to test it.

Donald Rodney (second from left) stands in front of the White Castle Fish shop, the exact location where his car was parked on the night of the explosion.
Donald Rodney (second from left) stands in front of the White Castle Fish shop, the exact location where his car was parked on the night of the explosion.

So, Rodney said, they drove straight along Howes Street and continued into Princes Street before heading onto John Street. They stopped approximately 61 ft. from the corner of John and Princes streets and waited for the first signal, which was a flash of light on the device. He stated that after they received this signal, they drove straight along John Street and crossed over Bent Street, passing the Georgetown Prison. He said they continued along John Street until they had reached the corner of John and Hadfield streets. At that time, there was a bakery at the junction.

Rodney said he parked the car further in from the edge of the road. His car was parked approximately 284 ft. from the Georgetown Prison’s northern fence and it was there that they waited for the second test.

However, no signal came and Rodney said he felt an impact and suddenly he was pushed against his car door. He added that he heard a loud noise and his body was pitched out of the car. “After the impact, I realised that I was injured… I couldn’t see

Donald Rodney (right) shows Commissioner Seenath Jairam (second right), Chairman of the Commission Sir Richard Cheltenham (centre) and Commissioner Jacqueline Samuels-Brown (left) the direction in which he ran after the explosion.
Donald Rodney (right) shows Commissioner Seenath Jairam (second right), Chairman of the Commission Sir Richard Cheltenham (centre) and Commissioner Jacqueline Samuels-Brown (left) the direction in which he ran after the explosion.

from the left eye and I had no feelings in either of my hands,” he said. “I rapidly came to the conclusion that Walter was injured more seriously than I since the impact was on his side of the car. When I started running north in John Street I was running for help for Walter,” he added.

Rodney stated that he did not recall seeing any policemen or police vehicle as they drove along the route to perform the tests.

“Clearly from the record of the map, if he [Donald Rodney] was to be travelling in the direction that the magistrate’s record reflects it would have taken him in the opposite direction, heading south not north along John Street,” Commission counsel Latchmie Rahamat stated.

 

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