Two Trinidad men freed of murder charge after a decade in jail

Jus­tice Car­la Brown-An­toine

(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.

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