(Trinidad Guardian) Two young men who faked their kidnappings on the same day – one due to money worries and the other because of tabanca—were each jailed for 30 days with hard labour yesterday. Jonathon Ramcharan, 24, of Gasparillo and Kevin Ramroop, 22, of Tarouba South, both unemployed, pleaded guilty to the wasteful employment of police time by making false reports to their relatives that they had been kidnapped and ransoms demanded for their release Wednesday.
Ramcharan, the first to appear before San Fernando Fourth Court Magistrate Kerianne Byer yesterday, sent two text messages from his phone to his mother’s cellphone around 11.14 am claiming he had been kidnapped and $100,000 was demanded for his safe release. His mother, Asha Lessy-Ramcharan, subsequently made a report at the San Fernando Police Station. Prosecutor Sgt Krishna Bedassie said the police took the mother’s statement and went to Carlton Centre, San Fernando, where they interviewed several persons and took statements. The police viewed footage of Carlton Centre, High Street and Library Corner.
Yesterday around 6.45 am, the investigating officer met Ramcharan, who was with his father, at the San Fernando Police Station, where he admitted that he lied.
He reportedly said, “Officer, the report of kidnapping is not true. I left Carlton Centre and I took a black taxi to Port-of-Spain. When I sent the text message to my mother I was in a taxi. I had some money problems so I could explain why I did it.”
When the officer asked about the minor injuries on his body, Ramcharan said, “I wanted to make it seem real so I scrape myself up with keys from my mother’s car.”
He said he threw away the key and his phone in Port-of-Spain but he did not know where because he did not know the capital.
Asking for justice and mercy for his client, attorney Subhas Panday said, “It was an act of stupidity.”
He said Ramcharan, who was recently laid off from a construction firm, had borrowed money from a woman and paid her back. But he said the woman sent some men to demand that he pay her again. Ramcharan claimed the men were following him and threatened that they knew where he lived. Panday said Ramcharan, who has a baby, was in a constant state of depression and feared that he would be kidnapped. However, he said Ramcharan told no one what he was going through because he was embarrassed and afraid. On Wednesday, he said, the men told Ramcharan they would deal with him and to meet them in Port-of-Spain. Ramcharan’s employer, who was in court, told the magistrate he was a good worker and a quiet person but recently he was withdrawn and seemed to be in a daze.
Ramcharan had no previous convictions or pending matters. However, the magistrate said these types of offences, particularly false kidnapping reports, are too prevalent, waste precious state resources and affect everyone, including family members. She also recalled the recent kidnapping of Natalie Pollonais which had the country on edge.
Saying this type of action cannot be encouraged, the magistrate said she could not consider a fine. She instead started her sentence at five months and then reduced it after considering all the mitigating factors in the matter. Ramcharan’s mother, who along with other relatives broke down in tears, tried in vain to speak with the magistrate.
Tabanca get me dotish
Describing Ramroop as a jilted lover, his attorney Dane Halls said the young and inexperienced man made the false claim in an attempt to get his ex-girlfriend to call him to try to rekindle their relationship.
Giving the facts of this case, prosecutor Bedassie said around 10.40 am Ramroop left his home telling his sister, Alana Phillip, he was going to Debe. Around 12.20 pm, the sister was at home when she received several messages via Facebook from Ramroop’s Facebook account telling her he had been kidnapped and a demand of $60,000 was made for his safe release.
The family members made a report at the San Fernando Police Station and the matter was referred to the Ste Madeleine Police Station. Charging officer Cpl Mohammed recorded statements, interviewed persons and contacted other police, including the Cyber Unit, Anti-Kidnapping Squad and Homicide Bureau. Later that day, Mohammed and other officers went to Reform Village, Gasparillo, where they saw Ramroop standing next to his Mitsubishi Lancer with both hands tied with wire strap. He also had mud on his hands and feet.
Admitting to faking his kidnapping, Ramroop reportedly said, “Officer, today I get a video of my ex-girlfriend and that trip me off. I send a message to my sister Facebook profile saying that I get kidnap and wanted $60,000 for them to release me. I really did not get kidnap, I sorry.”
Ramroop also said, “Officer, I sorry for them messages and faking my kidnapping, that tabanca really get me dotish. I did not expect this to reach so far. I feeling real shame now.”
Pleading for a fine, Halls said his client was a first time offender, lived with parents and attends church. Halls said Ramroop loved his ex-girlfriend, who left him for someone else.
Saying the unsightly image of his ex-girlfriend, which was sent to his phone, was the straw which broke the camel’s back, Halls said Ramroop contemplated ending his life but decided against it because of his biblical teachings. Halls said he was hoping the fake ‘kidnapping’ would have caused his girlfriend to call him. “And he will express his love for her and she will express her love for him. It was not a good plan,” said Halls.
Noting that the maximum penalty for the offence is a $1,000 fine and six months in prison, the magistrate gave similar reasons as the previous case as to why she would not impose a fine. She said he wasted state resources “for no real reason except that you suffered the loss of your girlfriend in the form of a break-up. This is not something this court could condone.”
In this matter, the magistrate also gave a starting point of five months imprisonment and reduced it.