(Trinidad Guardian) Two men have been acquitted of murdering a pensioner during a botched robbery over a decade ago.
It took a 12-member jury before Justice Carla Brown-Antoine in the Port-of-Spain High Court the entire four hours allotted to them for deliberations, to return with not guilty verdicts for Ancil Ramroop and Romeo Grannum.
In announcing their decision, the jury foreman indicated that the State had presented insufficient evidence against the accused.
The decision was met with instant celebration from the relatives of the accused, who attended most hearings of the case over the past month.
Some were forced to leave the courtroom as they cried and screamed in joy over the prospect of being reunited with the men, who spent almost 11 years in prison before going on trial.
Ramroop and Grannum also could not contain their emotions as they embraced each other and nodded at the jurors before being led out of the court by police officers.
“Out and bad!” one of them was heard screaming as they were being led through the corridors of the Hall of Justice before being set free.
In an interview after the verdict, their lawyer Israel Khan, SC, expressed disappointment over the decade-long delay his clients had to wait for a trial.
“It is a serious indictment against the criminal justice system and the rule of law when accused persons, presumed to be innocent, are locked up for 10 years before they could get a trial,” Khan said as he suggested that the categorisation of the offence of murder would assist in reducing the backlog of cases in the criminal justice system.
Ramroop and Grannum were charged with murdering 79-year-old Soonardaye Singh in October 2007.
During the trial, prosecutors claimed that Singh died several days after being planassed during a robbery at her home in Las Lomas No 2.
Both men denied any wrongdoing and Ramroop gave a statement to police in which he claimed that the murder was, in fact, committed by Singh’s daughter Rajee and Vijay Gobin, who was a State witness in the case.
Ramroop claimed that he and Grannum were liming with Rajee and Gobin, when she suggested that they rob an elderly woman she knew.
While being cross-examined, the police officer who investigated the case admitted that some of the court exhibits in the case had gone missing from the Caroni Police Station during recent floods. The men were also represented by Alima Alexis, while Maria Lyons-Edwards prosecuted.