The trial of the Tower Suites and Club Privilege employees, who are charged with attempting to obstruct justice by deleting video footage of a shooting that took place at the nightclub, continued on Monday with evidence from one of the investigating ranks.
Andre Rochford, 43, of Lot 28 Victoria Street, Arouca, Trinidad and Tobago, who is the manager of Club Privilege; Keisha Phillips, of Republic Park, East Bank Demerara, who is the General Manager of Tower Suites Hotel; and Ronald O’Brien, of D’Urban Street, a technician, are charged with willfully attempting to obstruct the course of justice by deleting CCTV footage depicting a shooting incident.
Gary Jordan, who is stationed at the Criminal Investigation Department’s intelligence unit and is attached to the forensic unit, took the stand on Monday as a state witness in the courtroom of trial magistrate Judy Latchman.
Jordan stated that on January 9, he received instructions to visit the Tower Hotel and proceeded to the building along with Sergeant Williams. They later met a Corporal Eastman. While at the building, Jordan told the court, he, Sergeant Williams and Corporal Eastman went to the office of a Senior Manager and told him that they were there in relation to retrieving footage from the incident that would have occurred in the club. He said the man told them that he had no knowledge of it and directed them to Rochford’s office, where they observed live footage of the club being shown on a television.
The officer stated that Rochford told him that the video he has is a sub feed and that he would have to seek permission before he is able to gain access to the surveillance room. According to Jordan, he, Williams and Eastman were taken to the restaurant area of the hotel and introduced to Phillips and they related to her the reason for their visit and the urgent need for the footage. Phillips, he added, related that she would like her technician to be present but the person was in Berbice and she didn’t have the password to access the video.
It was at this time that Phillips allegedly made contact with her technician and subsequently related to the officers that the technician would not be back until after 4pm that day. Phillips was once again told of the urgent need to access the footage and once again, for about 20 minutes, began calling her technician to retrieve a password.
While this was being done, Jordan stated that he along with the other officers went back to Rochford’s office, where he observed that the club feed, which was previously being shown, was off. When asked why the footage was off, Rochford stated that the feed would “come on and off.”
Jordan then stated that they later went back into the club, where Phillips was, and they were told that she was in possession of a password.
The officer’s testimony was at that point suspended by Magistrate Latchman, who adjourned the proceedings until April 27.
At the arraignment of the trio, Police Prosecutor Shawn Gonsalves had related that a police investigator went to Club Privilege and spoke with Rochford and Phillips and questioned them on the shooting. Gonsalves said the officer asked for the footage but was told by the two that they can only access the footage with the aid of their technician. The court was told by Gonsalves that the police rank left and went back to the club later on in the day to view the CCTV footage and it was discovered that some of the footage had been deleted.
At around 3am on January 8, there was an exchange of gunshots inside Club Privilege, which resulted in injuries. The club’s management failed to make the necessary report to the police. It was not until the afternoon when an injured person provided the police with information that they were made aware of the shooting.
Before investigators arrived at the scene, the area had been cleaned, including of blood, and spent shells were picked up. However, there were visible holes in the wall of the club.