(Trinidad Guardian) Oropune residents are now said to be showing genuine regret, remorse and sadness for the man they badly beat last week, after they claimed he attempted to lure a five-year-old girl away from a nearby playground.
Victim Ashdale Mc Hutchinson, 49, died at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope, at about 11 am on Sunday.
Mc Hutchinson, who lived at Bon Air Gardens, Arouca, with his mother Jeannette, was visiting his sister Anika and cousin Mario in Oropune Gardens last Wednesday, when he was confronted by a mob of residents. They severely beat him and subsequently hog-tied him before calling the police. Mc Hutchinson was hospitalised since the attack and never regained consciousness.
His sisters Anika, Alisa and Amanda were all overwhelmed with inconsolable grief while at the Forensic Science Centre, St James, for his autopsy yesterday.
“They didn’t have to tie my brother like a hog and kill him just so…for nothing. How could these people live with themselves now?” Anika said.
Mc Hutchinson’s cousin Mario said he invited him over to his house on Wednesday for the Indian Arrival Day holiday so that he could “eat roti and relax.” He said he left to go to a nearby parlour to purchase a cigarette.
“I was told that he went to the parlour and got none so he must have went somewhere else and I feel that was when he got lost,” Mario told the T&T Guardian.
“I was told that he came across the playground and some children were selling chow and he bought out all the chow and gave it away because that is how he was. He was a kind and generous person.”
In a video of the incident that went viral, moments after Mc Hutchinson was smoked out from nearby bushes and badly beaten by the residents, he was heard begging for his life. The residents had accused him of attempting to lure the child by calling her “cousin” but in the video he tried to defend himself, saying he would usually refer to people he would meet as family.
Sister Amanda confirmed his usually good-natured greeting to the T&T Guardian yesterday.
“I know my brother, he meant no harm. He was not a vagrant or piper. He worked very hard for his money at the Macoya Market. He was the sole breadwinner at home too. He took care of his mother,” Amanda said.
Anika also said her brother was robbed, adding she did not believe the alleged paedophile theory being used by the residents to justify the beating.
“They robbed him, his new shoes, new cellphone and money. It was nothing else but that. I want justice…police must lock up everybody from mother to child to everyone who beat him unconscious then revive him by dashing him with water and beating him again.”
It is also alleged that a plainclothes police officer was part of the group who beat Mc Hutchinson.
Yesterday, however, Jeannette said she had already forgiven her son’s attackers. “Only because God say to forgive,” she said.
At Oropune, Mario said a woman came to his house yesterday morning to offer condolences.
“She said she was very sorry for what happened to my cousin. She said she believes that something went terribly wrong, which led to the incident.”
A resident, who wished not to be identified and who was standing outside Building 140 when the T&T Guardian visited the community yesterday, described the incident as “sad.”
“I was sleeping and didn’t hear of it till the next morning. It is very sad and unfortunate.”
Another resident said he remains very shocked.
“This is just terrible to know that this man probably was innocent after all. Nobody not saying nothing but just expressing how sorry they are. People not even saying now whether they were there or not.”
Mc Hutchinson’s relatives explained that because he was such a “good man” they wanted to donate his two kidneys. However, it could not have been done because of a medical complication that was identified.
The autopsy is expected to be conducted today to determine the actual cause of death.
Officers at the Arouca Police Station have turned the case over to Homicide. The T&T Guardian was told officers have so far interviewed five people but no one is taking responsibility for the attack. In fact, those interviewed have been pointing fingers at others, officers said, noting persons involved in the attack could face charges in Mc Hutchinson’s death. Investigations are continuing.