STOP SCREAMING OR I'LL KILL YOU
By AZARD ALI Saturday, September 21 2013
THE Pixie Lakhan murder trial took an unusual turn yesterday when a woman, who has absolutely no connection with the murder trial, testified in court that back in 2005, Paul Vincent — who is on trial for raping and murdering schoolgirl Radha Pixie Lakhan, 16, and Taramatie Toolsie, 40 — had attacked and threatened to sexually assault her in Siparia.
The woman testified yesterday before Justice Mark Mohammed and a 12-member jury, who are trying Vincent, 34, for the murders of Lakhan and Toolsie. The woman emerged as the prosecution’s latest witness in Vincent’s trial.
Justice Mohammed granted the State leave to call the new witness to testify, as the state sought to show the jury that Vincent is a man with a propensity to target women for assault. Such evidence, Justice Mohammed explained to the jury, is known as ‘bad character’ evidence.
He said the State can lead such evidence against an accused where that person has cast aspersions on the character of State witnesses. This is in accordance with an amendment to the Evidence Act.
Justice Mohammed told the jury that ‘bad character’ evidence is unrelated to the two murders for which Vincent is being tried. He reiterated to the jury that this new evidence is being allowed for the State to show Vincent as someone with a propensity, “to follow women in isolated areas, to perform non-consensual sexual acts on them.” Justice Mohammed warned that such evidence, by itself, is insufficient to convict Vincent for murder. The defence, Justice Mohammed told the jury, is entitled to challenge the ‘bad character’ evidence. Senior State attorney Angelica Teelucksingh then called the woman into the courtroom and she took the oath. The woman gave her name and occupation. She said that on April 15, 2005, she went to church in Siparia. Shortly after midnight, she left church and was walking to her home through Alta Garcia Trace.
The woman said that in the shadow of a street lamp, her attention was drawn to the figure of a man walking about 30 feet behind her.
“I walked towards Jeffers Lane. I saw a shadow to my right. I was just approaching Jeffers Lane when the person appeared to raise his hand. I stopped and turned...and as I did so, the person grabbed me. He was in front of me...face to face.”
The witness continued that the man was not wearing a mask and at first, she thought someone was playing a prank on her. “I pushed him off and began to scream. He started to choke me. He tried to grab my bag and I continued to push him off.
“We fell and rolled down a precipice. He fell on top of me. I was screaming, crying and praying. He began to tell me to hush my mouth. He said, ‘I have a knife, I will kill you.’ I stopped screaming. I was lying face down.”
The woman said that the man asked her if she was a virgin and after she told him she was a single mother of two, he asked her to undress.
Teelucksingh asked the witness to describe, for the jury, the man who attacked her. The witness said he was of mixed “dougla” race, with curly hair, dark complexion, slim build and about five feet five inches tall. “His teeth was slightly uneven,” she added, “and he was stooping in front of me.”
The state attorney then told the witness to look around the courtroom and if she sees her attacker from 2005, present, to point him out. The woman looked directly at Vincent who was sitting in the dock and said: “He’s right there.”
Continuing her evidence, the woman said she began to scream and the man began to choke her while she was lying face down. Vincent, the witness said, held on to her ankles as she looked him in the face. The woman testified that suddenly, she heard the voice of a resident who shouted, “Who’s that? What’s going on down there?” She said that Vincent then ran into some nearby bushes while she crawled away from the precipice. Neighbours came out of their homes, the woman said, and telephoned the police.
Defense attorney Rekha Ramjit, instructed by attorney Michael Rooplal, began her cross-examination of the woman yesterday and will continue on Monday when the trial resumes.
On March 22, 2005 schoolgirl Lakhan, 16, alighted from a taxi at Spring Trace in Siparia after classes at her school, Palo Seco Secondary, ended earlier than usual. Vincent is alleged to have attacked Lakhan, dragged her into bushes where he raped her and then strangled the teen with her school belt.
Lakhan’s skeletal remains, book bag, uniform and sneakers were found on April 22 of that year. Toolsie, 40, was attacked on April 15, 2005 and her decomposed body discovered on April 18, of that year in bushes off La Brea Trace, not far from where she lived. She was raped and strangled.