Trinidad: Two jailed for faking kidnappings

(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.


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