Andrew Morris was murdered by police.
Attorney for the family of the 35-year-old Arima man, Nestor Dinnoo-Alloy says the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) has questions to answer in relation to Morris’ death.
“Andrew was a businessman and he rented the vehicle (used in the kidnapping) to someone based on a recommendation. Andrew did not know the person who was owing him two weeks’ payment for the vehicle.
“This notion where you beat a suspect to a pulp trying to access intelligence is wrong, and I am certain it is nowhere in the police regulations or Judges’ Rules,” Dinnoo-Alloy said.
“It appears to me that Mr Andrew Morris’ death was not caused by him falling off of a chair thrice as professed by the Commissioner of Police.
“The macabre nature of Mr Morris’ injuries proves that his death was due to the savage actions of the SORT (Special Operations Response Team) unit of the TTPS, of which I strongly believe that some members of the TTPS are being economical with the truth,” he added.
Noting that Trinidad and Tobago is not a Gestapo state, but one which needs to abide by the rule of law, the attorney said the actions of SORT officers clearly show they are above the law, with a mandate of “by any means necessary”, including beating persons of interest to death, to secure information.
Noting it is “very obvious” that SORT failed to presume Morris was innocent until proven guilty, the attorney said this is indicative “of the fact that Mr Morris was not afforded any form of legal representation, which amounts to a breach in natural justice”.
Morris’ family made several requests to ascertain where the SORT unit took him after he was beaten, but were not apprised of the location where he was detained, the attorney said.
“I am of the opinion that the SORT unit, being overly zealous in solving the crime against Andrea Bharatt, acted on unverified information and came to Mr Morris’ house to usurp the role of judge, jury and executioner. That is wrong,” he said.
The attorney added this “caveman-style justice” is viewed by many, including himself, as murder.
“We are not a banana republic, but a republic state with laws which guide the behaviour of everyone, regardless of creed, race or social class.
“No one should be above the law, and our Constitution affords every person the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. This right is a safeguard against persons being wrongfully accused,” he said.
Additionally, Dinnoo-Alloy said a plethora of misinformation found its way into the public domain where allegations were made concerning Morris and “his role” in the kidnapping of Bharatt.
Of note, the attorney said, is the misinformation was made public within days of the family and country finding out Morris was dead.
“Certain media houses are guilty of disseminating inaccurate information from day one. No possession of any kind belonging to Ms Bharatt, including a bank card being found at Mr Morris’ home, and Mr Morris never withdrew funds using any such bank card.
“It is unfortunate that a man has lost his life because of an allegation and individuals are repeating as fact,” he added.
Questioning the absence of body cameras and the TTPS’ Audio Visual Unit which frequently accompanies police exercises, Dinnoo-Alloy said the lawlessness of SORT can no longer be allowed to continue. “Today, it’s the Morris family; tomorrow, it could be other law-abiding individuals from society,” he said.
Asked whether the family will be taking any action, the attorney said currently they are exploring their options, but at present their main concern is burying Morris.
What the autopsies said
On February 8, an autopsy conducted by pathologist Dr Eslyn McDonald-Burris on Morris’ body listed the cause of death as:
1. Multiple trauma to upper body.
2. Pulmonary oedema and congestion.
(Pending toxicological and histopathological examination).
Relatives were told a more detailed forensic report would be available in the coming weeks.
A second autopsy privately done on February 9 at Simpson’s Funeral Home, Couva, by pathologist Dr Hubert Daisley noted, “There were multiple injuries of blunt force trauma covering most of the anterior chest wall, the abdomen and the posterior chest/back, both upper limbs and lower limbs. Many of these injuries were 0.2 to 0.3 inches long.”
In his nine-page report, the pathologist concluded, “The deceased died from severe blunt force trauma to his chest, abdomen, limbs and skull. The multiple rib fractures listed would have caused a flail chest, pulmonary haemorrhages, hemopneumothorax and contusion to the heart.
“These injuries are fatal if not treated promptly. Injuries to the skull which Andrew S Morris sustained are also fatal. He would have promptly gone into unconsciousness, aspirated and died. He could not have survived for more than 20 minutes with these multiple injuries.”