Cop, more relatives testify as inquiry into Lindo massacre continues

The second public hearing of the 2008 Lindo Creek massacre inquiry yesterday saw the testimony of the officer who prepared the coroner’s orders for the murdered victims, and the relatives of two of the deceased.

Corporal Carl Jacobs related to the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) yesterday that he had been told by Inspector Pitt, the CID detective in charge of ‘E and F’ Division at the time, to prepare the documents.

He said he had been asked to prepare the orders for the eight miners murdered at Lindo Creek. Later, when asked if he had used the word “murder” in his report, he stated no, relating that he had referred to “gunshot injuries.” He also related that although a short report detailing the injuries is usually attached to the coroner’s order, he did not receive such.

The orders were prepared with the intention that they would be forwarded to government pathologist Dr Nehaul Singh.

However, under questioning by CoI attorney Patrice Henry, Jacobs related that there was no indication on the documents that Singh had conducted an autopsy. Furthermore, when Chairman of the Commission Justice (Rtd) Donald Trotman directed Jacobs to a section on the documents where Singh’s name had reportedly been crossed out and another name written in, Jacobs stated that he could not recognise the name penned and said he was not the one that wrote it.

When Jacobs appeared before the commission yesterday, it was his first time seeing the documents again since handing the orders over to Pitt.

The Corporal said he had never seen the remains, neither had he been witness to the performance of an autopsy.

On the last occasion, mortician Dr Dawn Stewart had related that when the remains were flown in from Lindo Creek, they were kept at the Lyken Funeral parlour for a few days until the time an autopsy was scheduled.

She further explained that because of the condition of the remains, it was decided that DNA studies were needed and so an autopsy was reportedly not conducted at that point.

Detective Sergeant (at the time of the massacre) Clensford Burnett, who was a part of the team that retrieved the remains from Lindo Creek, testified that after the remains were taken to the funeral home, the next time he encountered them was when a Jamaican forensics team visited. At that point, the remains were uplifted from the funeral home and transported to the Georgetown

Public Hospital’s mortuary, where a pathologist on the team reportedly conducted an autopsy.

Burnett said that he did not know the name of that pathologist.

Also appearing before the commission yesterday were Lena Waldron, mother of deceased Horace Drakes; Nathalie Hinds-McDonald, aunt of Horace Drakes; Deon Drakes, Horace Drake’s daughter; Carmen Gittens, Compton Spiers’ sister; and Marilyn Sullivan, mother to Compton Spiers’ son Orwin Sullivan.

They all testified to last seeing the two men in May, 2008, before they left to go “into the bush” with the owner of the camp, Leonard Arokium.

Waldron related that she was not contacted by the police at the time of her son’s death, only when she was required to visit the CID to give DNA samples, along with her son.

Gittens said that Horace’s son Orwin, 9-years-old at the time of his father’s death, had been the one to provide the DNA samples for testing.

Common among the testimonies of these witnesses was that police had not contacted them about the men’s suspected deaths nor had they been contacted by any public officials, or received compensation. While both families had held memorial services for the deceased, they all stated that they were not informed about burial of the remains.

Burnt human bones and skulls had been discovered on June 21st, 2008 by Leonard Arokium, owner of the Lindo Creek mining camp. DNA tests done in Jamaica several years later confirmed that the remains had belonged to his son Dax Arokium, his brother Cedric and workers Compton Speirs, Horace Drakes, Clifton Wong, Lancelot Lee, Bonny Harry and Nigel Torres.

The eight men were mining for diamonds at the location when they met their gruesome deaths, sometime between June 9th and June 10th. After the miners were slaughtered, their bodies and belongings were burnt.

The CoI is to inquire into the circumstances surrounding the killings of the men and report its findings and recommendations to President David Granger.

The hearings are being held at the Department of the Public Service, on Waterloo Street, Georgetown.

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