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2013 marred by slaughter of the innocents

By NALINEE SEELAL and ALEXANDER BRUZUAL Sunday, December 22 2013

The senseless killing and deaths of toddlers and children this year captured the headlines as lead stories at all media houses evoking public outrage, so much so, that Government was prompted to directly respond and order a special Task Force be set up to deal specifically with protecting the rights of children.

All within the 91-day time frame of September and November, seven children lost their lives in tragic circumstances. However, it was the period between November 20 and November 30, where, in the space of just ten days, this nation was rocked with the violent deaths of three children, a one-year-old baby, a three-year-old toddler, and a six-year-old girl.

The brutal rape and murder of six-year-old Keyana Cumberbatch of Maloney Gardens prompted island- wide outrage and demands for justice — so much so that the reports even garnered international coverage in the United Kingdom and in the United States. A 27-year-old male relative of Keyana has since appeared before an Arima magistrate charged with her murder and has been ordered to be sent to the St Ann’s Hospital for an evaluation and assessment.

The facts are that on November 25, Keyana disappeared after she was reportedly sent to her grandmother’s home across the road from her Building Four, Maloney apartment home. A report was made to the police, but unfortunately Keyana was never seen alive again.

Northern Division officers did work assiduously alongside officials from the Homicide Bureau of Investigations, as they searched day and night for Keyana, however, there was absolutely no sign of the girl.

It was not until three days later that Keyana’s mother, Simone Williams, noticed a strong stench coming from her bedroom, and upon investigating, discovered her daughter’s crumpled body stuffed in a barrel.

An autopsy carried out by forensic psychologist Dr Valerie Alexandrov revealed Keyana’s head was bashed in. The autopsy also showed that after she was killed, Keyana was raped.

Just eight days before Keyana’s body was found, officers of the St Joseph Police Station, responding to a report of a kidnapping of a one-year-old, were shocked to find the body of the child tossed into a cesspit at the back of his Maracas/St Joseph home.

The facts are that baby Jacob was reported as kidnapped by his father, 27-year-old Allan Thomas, who allegedly told police that the child was taken after armed men had broken into his home along Santa Marita Trace, on November 19. Thomas claimed that he had been beaten, forced to injure himself, and forced to drink a noxious substance by his attackers, who then abducted his son.

During routine checks at the home the following day, a party of officers led by Sgt Rene Katwaroo found the body of the infant in a cesspit at the back of the Maracas/St Joseph home.

An autopsy revealed that the child had been beaten with a blunt instrument. Since then, his father has been charged with the murder of the child and the matter is currently before a Tunapuna magistrate.

In the third incident, three-year-old Jabari Hernandez was rushed to the Sangre Grande Hospital on November 30, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. An autopsy carried out by pathologist Dr Hughvon des Vignes revealed Jabari died as a result of peritonitis which according to the University of Maryland Medical Centre is an inflammation of the peritoneum, the thin membrane that lines the abdominal wall and covers the organs.

Young Jabari’s case is still engaging the attention of homicide officers as, while peritonitis is typically caused by a bacterial or fungal infection, it can also be caused by other conditions that allow bacteria or fungus to come into the peritoneum from a hole or tear in the abdominal wall. In this case, Dr des Vignes’ autopsy shows that Jabari’s cause of death was most likely due to blunt abdominal trauma and multiple traumatic injuries.

This result has been heavily disputed by relatives of Hernandez, who repeatedly maintain that the child had fallen while running, and soon thereafter, it was believed he had gotten very sick — claims which can also theoretically result in peritonitis.

However, despite these assertions from relatives, as of writing this article, police were still treating Jabari’s death as a homicide, although no one has been arrested to date.

On September 3, eight-month-old Sidney Stellan was beaten to death at his home along Angelina Terrace, Morvant.

He was last seen alive by his mother at about 4 pm when he was left in the care of a man who was known to Sidney’s mother.

However, upon her return home, the woman was told that the child was frothing from his mouth. He was rushed to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. An autopsy which was done later that week showed that Stellan died as a result of blunt force trauma.

Then on September 16, Kimora Roopnarine, two, was beaten to death in Chaguanas.

A police report stated Thomas-Fletcher dropped off baby Kimora at a daycare centre near their home at about 10 am that day and went away. At about 4 pm, a man picked up the child and took her home. The police report added that the man later rushed Kimora to the Chaguanas Health Facility because she was gasping for breath. Kimora was pronounced dead on arrival at the health centre.

An autopsy conducted at the Forensic Sciences Centre, St James by Dr des Vignes the following day revealed baby Kimora suffered blunt force trauma to her chest and had three broken ribs.

On October 5, three-day-old Nishan Lal was found dead in Sangre Grande.

His body was found stuffed in a bag floating in a river, 21-year-old Alicia Acevero, is currently before a Sangre Grande magistrate, charged with his killing.

Then on October 12, two-mont-old Andre Mowlah was thrown to the ground allegedly by his father Feroze Mowlah. Baby Andre died a short while after.

Currently, Mowlah is before a Point Fortin Magistrate charged with his son’s murder.

This year was also marred by the deaths of several prominent officials in the Legal Service, the Police Service and the Prisons Service. It began with the death of 43-year-old police sergeant Hayden Manwaring on February 19.

On that day Manwaring and other officers responded to a report that Mom’s Diner at Cipero Street, San Fernando, had been robbed.

The officers spotted the get away vehicle, a Nissan AD wagon, at Padmore Street, located off the Gulf View Link Road. It was during the apprehension of one of the suspects that Manwaring’s gun was taken away and he was shot.

Other responding officers took their wounded colleagues to hospital, and began a search for other suspects. Police officers called in the Coast Guard , a police helicopter, and soldiers to secure the coast between Embacadere and King’s Wharf.

Within an hour, during raids of several apartments at Embacadere, the four suspects were held. Unfortunately Manwaring died that day at the San Fernando General Hospital.

Then on May 14, 39-year-old police corporal Terrance Abraham was shot and killed following a vehicular accident in Couva.

Abraham, a father of two and a policeman for the past 17 years, was assigned to the Police Traffic Branch in Chaguanas. On May 14, Abraham was driving his car along Mt Pleasant Road, Milton Road, Couva, when he was forced to stop and exit his vehicle leaving behind his female companion still sitting in the front passenger seat.

A car proceeding in the opposite direction, hit the side mirror of Abraham’s car before coming to a stop. Abraham later got into an argument with the driver of the other car who pulled out a gun and shot the officer several times before speeding off. The killer’s car was later found abandoned.

On June 6, 47-year-old police corporal Simon Clapham, was shot and killed in Woodbrook. Clapham, a father of three, and a policeman for 22-years, who was the personal driver of Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, was shot and killed when two bandits attempted to rob him of his van.

On June 11, policeman hopeful, 26-year-old Ryan McIntosh was shot and killed near his home in Morvant.

On August 27, prominent attorney, Dr Wesley Debideen, was eating ice cream as he drove through Grand Bazaar in Valsayn when at about 3.30 pm, a car pulled suddenly in front of his, forcing him to stop. Without warning, a man walked out of the car, and shot Debideen several times before cooly returning into his car and driving off.

Debideen died on the spot.

On October 26, former police constable Junior Khan, 53, who lived at Green Acres, Foster Road, Sangre Grande was found badly injured along Cunaripo Road, Guaico, Tamana. He had been shot and chopped, police said.

On November 7, Prisons Officer Andy Rogers was shot and killed along Daniel Trace, Malabar.

Rogers, who had 19-years of service, was on vacation leave and had gone to Daniel Trace to help construct box drains as a means of making extra cash to provide for his family. Residents of the area heard several loud explosions and when they investigated the source of the noise, they found Rogers lying in the drain. He had been shot multiple times.

Also making headlines this year were the deaths of Venezuelan nationals Gregorio and Ortiz Jesus, who were brutally murdered on October 1 at the Brasso Piedra forest in Flanagin Town.

The couple were killed only two days after they arrived in Trinidad from Margarita.

The two, who got married on July 27, were shot several times and their bodies dumped along a track which leads to a cocoa estate.

On August 26, 82-year-old Lillian Bunsee was mauled to death by her grandson’s pitbull at the family home in La Seiva, Maraval.

A file advising an inquest be done has been submitted by officers of the St Clair Police Station to a senior superintendent who will decide what course of action to take in this case.

Bunsee’s grandson Damian Singh, 33, was released after being detained for questioning about her death. Singh’s dog, “No Mercy”, an American Bully, attacked Bunsee as she was about to feed the animal. A source said “No Mercy” was pregnant and may have been in a highly agitated state when Bunsee approached, breaking free of the makeshift kennel and lunging at the elderly woman, knocking her to the ground before savagely mauling her to death.

Acting ASP Ajith Persad is continuing inquiries into that incident.

The country was also rocked by several triple murders which saw families and friends being wiped out in senseless shooting attacks.

On February 8, murder victims Kerwin Melville, 39, Shakeel Melville, 16 and Jameel Melville, 13 were shot and killed in Laventille. The trio were killed while looking at television at their home by armed gunmen who stormed the premises.

Two months later on May 3 Timothy James, 32, Theresa Nelson, 55 and George James, 50 were shot and killed in Diego Martin at their home at Felix Road.

Then in July another family, a father and two children, were fatally stabbed and the killer shot dead by police at the family’s Fyzabad home. The victims were

Brrico “Bull” Subhan, 46, his daughter Sheriffa 14, and son Mustaf, who was four years old. The killer who was identified as Sylvan Alladin was shot dead by police.

One month later on August at Desperlie Crescent Laventillem, three young men, two who carried the same last names, were gunned down. The three were at a house in Laventille when armed gunmen stormed the premises and riddled them with bullets. They were identified as Michael Jameel Fox, alias “Blacker” 24, his cousin Michael Fox, 21 and Shaquille Bishop.

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