Cop admits not following procedure in taking statements

Boxing Day murder trial

Nyron Thakurdyal

Constable Cledwin Bennett who claims that Vishwantie Ragnauth and Nyron Thakurdyal made certain statements to him after he had put an allegation of murder to them, admitted yesterday that in the process he breached standard police procedure.

Bennett was at the time testifying before Justice Sandil Kissoon and a jury at the trial of Ragnauth and Thakurdyal who are accused of murdering 39-year-old Sunil Ramsundar on Boxing Day 2014.

Called to the stand, Bennett told the court that after cautioning and putting the allegation to the accused, Ragnauth responded by saying “police officer ah din guh fuh do that.”

Meanwhile, he said that Thakurdyal told him “Big man, me just part.”

He said he wrote down both their responses.

It was, however, under cross-examination that the police constable revealed his failure to inform the accused of their right and the option available to them of having him (Bennett) write their statements or they themselves.

Bennett said he neither threatened nor induced the accused for them to make the statements they did but admitted to defence attorney Nigel Hughes under cross-examination his failure to follow procedures stipulated by law for putting allegations to accused persons. 

In accordance with the judges’ rules, standard police operating procedure mandates that the officer putting the allegation, explains to an accused after the caution is administered, whether they wish to reduce anything they may have said in writing.

If they are so inclined the officer must then further enquire whether the person wishes to have that particular officer write the statement on their behalf, they themselves write it, or any other person of their choice to so do.  

When asked, Bennett told Hughes that he was aware that it was required of him to put these options to the accused but when further pressed as to why he did not so do, the constable’s response was “I can’t recall  why I din tell them that.”

The man then went on to say among other things that he was dealing with other issues at the time and that “the police station was crowded.”

At the time of the taking of the alleged statements in 2014, Bennett was stationed at the Wales Police Station.

Also testifying yesterday was mother-in-law of the deceased, Geeta Lakeram who recalled relatives raising an alarm and summoning her to the scene where she saw Ramsundar’s bloodied body slumped against a fence.

She said that the man was immediately rushed to the West Demerara Regional Hospital but succumbed to his injuries.

Three crime scene photos which Sergeant Ameer Ricknauth said he took were tendered and admitted in evidence at yesterday’s hearing.

In her opening address to the jury, Prosecutor Orinthia Schmidt told the jury that there was a brewing family problem which culminated in an altercation between Ramsundar and Ragnauth, who is his niece.

She said that it was during that altercation that Thakurdyal held onto the man and stabbed him.

The charge against the jointly-charged duo is that they murdered Ramsundar at Patentia, West Bank Demerara on the night of December 26th, 2014.

The trial continues this afternoon at 1 at the High Court in Georgetown.  

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