CCTV footage disputes alleged kidnapping at Trinidad shopping centre

Gas­par­il­lo res­i­dent Jonathon Ram­cha­ran

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) The in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to the al­leged kid­nap­ping of Gas­par­il­lo res­i­dent Jonathon Ram­cha­ran took a strange twist ear­li­er today when video sur­veil­lance showed him en­ter­ing taxi en route to Port-of-Spain.

Po­lice ini­tial­ly re­ceived a re­port that he was bun­dled in­to a white Nis­san Navara at the Carl­ton Cen­tre carpark in San Fer­nan­do, but in­ves­ti­ga­tors saw noth­ing on closed-cir­cuit tele­vi­sion (CCTV) to sub­stan­ti­ate that in­for­ma­tion.

In­stead, the footage showed that a per­son re­sem­bling Ram­cha­ran as he parked his ve­hi­cle at the car park, walked to the Port-of-Spain taxi stand on High Street and board­ed a taxi.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors are ex­pect­ed to in­ter­view the taxi dri­ver about his in­ter­ac­tion with Ram­cha­ran and where he would have dropped him.

The man­age­ment of Carl­ton Cen­tre al­so is­sued a state­ment on its Face­book page deny­ing that Ram­cha­ran was tak­en from their com­pound. The com­pa­ny stat­ed that he parked on their com­pound but left in a safe and nor­mal man­ner.

It stat­ed, “The man­age­ment of Carl­ton Cen­tre will like to take this op­por­tu­ni­ty to clar­i­fy a num­ber of false re­ports cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial me­dia re­gard­ing a miss­ing in­di­vid­ual, Mr Jonathan Ram­cha­ran. Based on our find­ings, Mr Ram­cha­ran did, in fact, vis­it Carl­ton Cen­tre on the morn­ing of Wednes­day, Oc­to­ber 17, 2018. Our CCTV Sys­tem records con­firmed that he parked on our com­pound and then pro­ceed­ed to High Street in a safe and nor­mal man­ner. This CCTV footage has al­ready been shared with the Po­lice Ser­vice who are now fur­ther­ing their in­ves­ti­ga­tions in the High Street area.”

Po­lice were told that Ram­cha­ran left his home yes­ter­day morn­ing to go to the bank. Ear­li­er re­ports stat­ed that around 10.15 am Ram­cha­ran ar­rived at the carpark in a Toy­ota Field­er wag­on. Po­lice said about an hour lat­er, his moth­er was alert­ed that he had been kid­napped via two text mes­sages from his phone.

The moth­er re­ceived the first text mes­sage around 11.15 am and it ap­peared to be from her son telling her that he had been kid­napped. The sec­ond text was a ran­som de­mand for an undis­closed sum. Ram­cha­ran is un­em­ployed and lives with his wife, four-month-old ba­by and his par­ents at Bonne Aven­ture Road, Gas­par­il­lo. When Guardian Me­dia vis­it­ed his home yes­ter­day his moth­er de­clined to com­ment.

“I am not giv­ing a state­ment right now,” said the moth­er. The po­lice, as well as rel­a­tives, were at their home. Mean­while, res­i­dents in the area were shocked by the in­ci­dent. De­scrib­ing the fam­i­ly as qui­et and nice peo­ple, they ques­tioned whether his kid­nap­ping was as a re­sult of mis­tak­en iden­ti­ty.

“It re­al­ly scary now. This crime sit­u­a­tion is out of con­trol,” a res­i­dent said.

In its re­lease, Carl­ton Cen­tre urged the pub­lic to re­frain from cir­cu­lat­ing false and mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion.

“Carl­ton Cen­tre is a pre­mi­um shop­ping des­ti­na­tion in the heart of San Fer­nan­do and we en­sure a safe and se­cure shop­ping en­vi­ron­ment for all our cus­tomers with­in our com­pound. We have full con­fi­dence that the Po­lice Ser­vice will be suc­cess­ful in their on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions.”

Up to late yes­ter­day, the po­lice were still try­ing to piece to­geth­er what hap­pened to Ram­cha­ran and the mo­tive be­hind his dis­ap­pear­ance.

Of­fi­cers of the San Fer­nan­do CID and An­ti Kid­nap­ping Unit are in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

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