MURDER SCENE: Crime scene investigators gather evidence by the bullet-riddled Mitsubishi Triton van, in which two security officers were killed and a third critically injured on Monday afternoon in the vicinity of Pennywise Super Centre, La Romaine. The guards, from Allied Security Ltd, were ambushed after they collected the day’s sales from Pennywise Super Centre. —Photo: DEXTER PHILIP

AT 11.30 a.m. today, lawyers for the State will be required to go before the High Court and explain why a soldier who was held for questioning in connec­tion with Monday’s deadly heist at Pennywise Plaza in La Romaine has been in the custody of police since then without charge.

Justice Devindra Rampersad yesterday evening granted permission to attorneys representing the 24-year-old soldier to issue a habeas corpus writ on acting Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob.

In addition to the issuance of the writ, the court ordered that all affidavits filed by the soldier’s attorneys and a copy of yesterday’s order be served on Jacob.

They are seeking to have him released from police custo­dy since they said it was unlaw­ful for officers to keep their client detained simply for the purpose of questioning.

In fact, the attorneys from the law firm CJ Williams and Company said his detention was arbitrary and not in keeping with the relevant judicial learning.

In the writ, the lawyers are also seeking an alternative to detention, in that he could be released into the custody of the Regiment and, therefore, would be available for further questioning by police if this became necessary.

The soldier, who is attached to Camp Serrette Army Base in La Romaine, was taken into custody around 6 p.m. on Monday after reporting to the La Romaine police that six men held him up at gunpoint and stole the white Nissan X-Trail he was driving.

The hold-up took place just minutes after heavily armed bandits shot up an Allied Security van, around 5 p.m., killing two guards—Jeffery Peters and Jerry Stuart—and injuring their colleague Peola Baptiste.

She is currently in critical condition at hospital.

At the time, the guards were transporting an undisclosed amount of cash and cheques from sales from business places in the plaza to be deposited at a financial institution.

After ambushing the guards, the bandits made off with the cash, but about an hour later, they were cornered by police at a house in La Romaine and four of them were shot dead. The vehicle taken from the soldier was found nearby.

TTPS: Abuse of process

On Wednesday, the soldier’s attorneys issued a pre-action protocol letter to Jacob, calling for their client to be released.

While they said their client’s detention for more than 26 hours was arbitrary, legal officer with the TTPS Tsonja Gayle disagreed.

In response to the letter, she said, “Your client is being held relative to a report of a larceny and shooting which took place on even date (Monday).

“We do understand and appreciate your enthusiasm in the circumstances but at this stage I opine that a pre-action letter is an abuse of process. While we do not possess the ability to advise you on the conduct of your matters, this may be perceived as intimidation and you must be reminded that police officers must be allowed the free opportunity to investigate and properly advance such investigations without unnecessa­ry haste in order to reduce error and ensure fairness to all parties.”

She added that the unnecessary disturbance of such investigations would also affect the continuity of such matters, and may also cause further delays when the investigation is unduly affected to respond to pre-action protocol letters prematurely.


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