Accused says aunt had left with male friend

Septic tank murder trial

Anthony De Paul Hope yesterday presented the court a new script in the story of his aunt’s murder for which he is currently on trial.

Hope and Ralph ‘Nick’ Tyndall are currently on trial for the murder of Colleen Forrester, whose body was found stuffed in the septic tank of the William Street property where she was caretaker. The third accused Kevin O’Neil has since been acquitted.

Tyndall has already led his defence, opting to give an unsworn statement from the prisoners’ dock.

 Colleen Forrester
Colleen Forrester

Hope on the other hand, opted to give sworn testimony from the witness box. From that position yesterday, he deviated from his caution statement, which has been admitted as evidence, telling the court that the last time he saw his aunt alive was when she left the William Street property in the company of a male companion known to him.

The young man admitted that he had seen the verbal confrontation that took place between Tyndall and Forrester, however, he denied witnessing his co-accused attacking the woman and by extension, helping him to clean up the blood and dispose of the woman’s body as per his caution statement.

The accused told the court that on December 26, 2007, before leaving the William Street property to attend the annual Main Big Lime event with O’Neil, he instructed Tyndall who had opted to stay at the house to put the house keys under the mat when he was leaving.

He stated that after the event, he and O’Neil ventured to a night club on Sheriff Street before making their way back to William Street, where he found his aunt and his cousin Niketa Semple at the gate calling out for him to open the gate. Hope told the court that he called Semple aside and asked her to jump the fence and collect the key from under the mat, adding that he didn’t want Forrester to know that Tyndall had been in the house.

However, Hope said, when Semple returned, she said Tyndall had given her the key. On hearing this, he said, he made his way upstairs and his aunt and cousin followed shortly after.

He said he ventured into the main bedroom, where he saw Tyndall hiding under a mattress and decided to leave him there. He said that his aunt turned on the lights in the house and noticed the dirty floors and wares in the sink and began quarrelling. He said Forrester sent her granddaughter to bring up water to clean the house. However, because Semple was small at the time, O’Neil accompanied her to help fetch the water.

When he collected the water from O’Neil, Hope said, the man related that he was leaving to get something to eat before the shops closed and he asked him to purchase a packet of cigarettes for him and handed the money to Semple who was accompanying O’Neil.

He said that while he made his way back up the stairs, he heard persons arguing and subsequently saw that Forrester had found Tyndall in the house.

“I tell you don’t come back here,” he said he heard her tell Tyndall who had appeared to be upset over the way she was treating him.

Hope said that he pushed Tyndall and told him to “go long out” while Tyndall responded, “I know what I gon do. I don’t have to come back here.”

After Tyndall left, he said he retired to the bedroom while his aunt tended to the dishes in the kitchen.

Shortly after, he said, a male companion of his aunt came by and Forrester stopped doing the dishes, grabbed her bag and told Hope to look for the house keys before entering the man’s car. Hope said that was the last time he saw his aunt alive.

He told the court that when Semple returned from the shop she asked for her grandmother and was told she had left with the male companion. As a result, he said, Semple told him she was going to sleep at the neighbour’s house with her sister, to which Hope said he told her to call before she went over.

Soon after, he said, he and O’Neil headed back out to Sheriff Street and spent some time. He admitted that he couldn’t recall how long he was gone for, but when he returned, he found Tyndall upstairs with a piece of wood in his hand. He said that he enquired about Tyndall’s reason for having the wood but Tyndall didn’t respond.

Tyndall reportedly left, but Hope said he did not know where the man went and at that point he retired to bed and didn’t wake up until 7 that morning.

Following questions posed by his lawyer, Hope said he loved his aunty and they were on good terms. Additionally, Hope said, he would not have stood there and let anyone attack his aunt.

Under cross-examination by the prosecution, Hope denied that yesterday was the first time he told anyone that story, adding that he had told the police the same story when he gave his statement.

State Attorney Stacy Goodings then asked that Hope’s caution statement be presented to him for examination. When asked if the statement he examined was his, Hope said that he could not read and therefore would not be able to say.

However, he did say that his name appeared several times in the statement but that his signature was not here.

Goodings suggested to Hope that he was being untruthful when he said he could not read, which he denied.

She then enquired about his educational background.

Hope did not deny that he attended both primary and secondary school, but stated that he had dropped out at the age of 16 while he was in third form at St Winefride’s.

At this point cross-examination was paused as Justice Roxane George called an adjournment to today.

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