No-case submissions overruled

 Haslington toddler murder trial

Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry yesterday overruled no-case submissions made by defence counsel, Sandil Kissoon on behalf of Kevin Rankin who is accused of murdering his two-year-old cousin.

The prosecution’s case is that on October 21, 2013, at South Haslington, East Coast Demerara, Rankin called ‘Lil Man,’ who was 15-years-old at the time, murdered Kimani Phillips.

Kissoon submitted that a prima facie case had not been made out after state attorneys, Nerissa Leander and Tuana Hardy closed their case. Justice Sewnarine-Beharry returned with the ruling after a brief deliberation.

A post-mortem examination conducted by government pathologist Dr. Nehaul Singh gave the cause of death as haemorrhage and shock due to multiple abdominal injuries.

The defence lawyer recalled two witnesses; Keane Primo, a cousin and Joy De Paul, an aunt for further cross-examination.

Primo told the court she had supplied investigators with two versions of the incident because she didn’t want to see her cousin locked up.

Primo, who was 18 years old at the time, related that around 7.30 am on the day of the incident she was in the upper flat of the front house where she lived carrying her out her morning chores when she started smelling an unusual odour.

She checked Kimani and realizing that the child had defecated, she said, she called Rankin to collect Kimani to bathe and change her.

When asked why she had not changed Kimani herself, Primo said the child was not left in her care, and did not live in the front house so she had no clothes there for Kimani.

Primo told the court that about one and half hours later she had finished her work and was heading to the neighbour’s shop to buy food when Rankin called out to her saying that Kimani was not breathing.

She said she immediately turned around and went to the back house where she collected the child from Rankin who told her that after he had cleaned her on the first occasion, Kimani had defecated and he cleaned her a second time.

Primo told the court that at time, her cousin was clad only in short pants and had appeared nervous.

She said Kimani was motionless and pale, but both her eyes and mouth were open.

“I walked at the right side of the house and called for my aunty, Joy De Paul… I gave her Kimani to hold to fix my slippers and then told her to call a taxi by the neighbour. When the taxi arrived I entered the taxi with Kimani Phillips and went straight to the Nabaclis Health Centre,” she explained.

Primo related that a nurse examined Kimani and checked for a pulse and heartbeat but found none and pronounced the child dead. However, overwhelmed with the news, Primo stated, they decided to take her to the Georgetown Public Hospital.

According to Kissoon, in her first police statement, Primo had told investigators that she had run up the stairs of the house into the bedroom where she found the child on the bed moving her head from side to side.

He also questioned her about for her reason for leaving out the part about Rankin being half naked and nervous, to which she responded that she had not been asked about her cousin’s appearance or demeanor prior to yesterday.

Under re-examination by State Counsel Narissa Leander, Primo admitted that she gave a different version of the story to the police because she didn’t want her cousin to get in trouble and be locked up by the police.

Asked why she had changed what she said at first, Primo told the prosecution that she wanted to tell the truth.

Kissoon suggested to Primo that she changed her statement because she performed Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on the child.

De Paul told the court that although she was standing at a distance of about 40 ft away from where the accused was with the child she did not hear any screams or cry coming from the house.

She said she had a good relationship with the accused but she did not visit him at the lock-ups.

She also did not inquire from him what had happened although she saw him acting nervously and was sweating and running around.

De Paul said too that she did not go upstairs to investigate or did not accompany Primo to the hospital with the child.

Joy De Paul, aunt to both Kimani Phillips and the accused, also testified during yesterday’s proceedings. The woman told the court that on the day the incident occurred, she had seen Rankin collect his niece from the house after Kiana called him to bathe and change Kimani.

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