Preacher denies leaving with victim on night last seen alive

Septic tank murder trial…

Winslow Smith, who murder accused Anthony De Paul Hope claimed was the last person he saw with his murdered aunt Colleen Forrester, yesterday denied that the woman left with him on the night she was last seen alive.

Hope, called ‘Papa,’ and Ralph Tyndall, called ‘Nick,’ are on trial in the High Court for Forrester’s murder. Forrester’s body was found stuffed inside the septic tank of the William Street property for which she had been the caretaker.

Smith was called to testify following allegations made by Hope, in sworn testimony, that Forrester had left the William Street property on the night of December 26, 2007 in Smith’s company.

 Colleen Forrester
Colleen Forrester

In response to questions posed by state attorney Stacy Goodings, Smith explained that the relationship he had shared with the deceased was similar to a father and daughter relationship since she was a member of the church he preaches at. He also told the court that he had been sharing the same relationship with the same woman for over 21 years.

Additionally, the man said that contrary to Hope’s claim that he was a frequent visitor at the William Street property, the only time he actually visited was January 6, 2008, which was the day Forrester’s body was found in the septic tank.

He recounted that he felt it was necessary to check up on the woman after a member of the church had pointed out that Forrester hadn’t been seen or heard from in a while.

Smith said that when he visited the woman’s residence in West Ruimveldt, he was directed to the William Street house. Smith explained to the court that Forrester was in the habit of taking flowers to church every time she came, so he looked for houses with flower plants in the hope of finding the house where the woman was staying.

After his successful search, Smith said, he saw the dead woman’s son, Cleon Forrester, who came downstairs in the company of some men and related what had happened. After calling his son, Smith said, he entered the yard with the intent to examine the area for places which may have been dug up.

“Something told me to look in the septic tank. So, I lift up the cover of the septic tank and I saw some cloth tie up together. But I was uncertain what it was, so I called my son to check it out,” the man told the court, before adding that after the discovery the police asked him to leave since the property had become a crime scene.

When asked if he was aware that Forrester had a nephew by the name of Anthony De Paul Hope, Smith responded in the negative. It was later revealed that the first time he became familiar with Hope was when Marlon Forrester, one of the woman’s sons, told him that the young man was held in connection with the woman’s murder.

Additionally, Smith also revealed that even though he visited the Alberttown Police Station to make enquiries about the progress of the investigations into the woman’s murder, he was never asked to give a statement.

Before adjourning the matter for the day, Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire permitted Hope’s lawyer Melville Duke to ask the witness one question under cross examination.

Seizing this opportunity with a smile on his face, Duke shot up from his seat and asked Smith where he had gotten his licence to practice theology.

Smith simply responded by saying, “I am in a spiritual organization, I don’t need a licence to practice.”

Also called to testify was Hope’s aunt, Palesha Etienne, who was reportedly present when Tyndall was arrested.

The trial is expected to continue today when the defence will continue to cross-examine Smith.

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