THE trial against a police officer charged with the 2007 murder of a man in Laventille began yesterday.
Anthony Sylvester allegedly shot Sheldon Des Vignes in the head at St Barb’s Road on November 9, 2007.
Des Vignes’s cousin-in-law Natasha Jesop gave evidence yesterday during the virtual judge-alone trial before Justice Hayden St Clair-Douglas.
Jesop said it was Divali and she, Des Vignes and others were playing an all-fours card game under a shed around 9 a.m.
Around noon she heard banging on galvanise and people making noise. She said she came out the shed to see what was taking place and stood by a black tank, holding her two-week-old son.
Jesop said she saw a crowd in front of a parlour and she saw another cousin-in-law “run down like Flash”.
She testified that she saw two police officers – one tall with a bald head and side burns and another who was short. She said they came down the alley and stopped behind the shop and the tall officer handed the short one his machine gun and then took out his gun from his left side and continued down the alley, pointing the gun. The short officer was behind him.
Jesosp said Des Vignes was walking out the shed and, “when he almost reach close to the edge of the shed, I heard one shot and I saw Sheldon take his left hand, touch his head and fell backwards”.
She saw smoke coming from the tall officer’s gun. She later identified this person as Sylvester.
Jesop said he (Sylvester) then felt under Des Vignes’s neck and then took out his cellular phone, dialled a number and handed the phone to his colleague.
She testified that people started to scream and crowd around Des Vignes’s body and Sylvester told them to move. When they did not, he fired two shots from his gun into the air. She said the people moved back a little from the body and Sylvester took up the spent shells.
She said Sylvester and the other officer held Des Vignes by his hands and feet and carried him out the alley.
Under cross-examination, Jesop admitted that she had not mentioned in the past that she was holding her two-week-old son on that day.
The defence’s case was stated to Jesop as attorney Ulric Skerritt told her the accused was running behind several men, some of whom were dressed in camouflage.
The men ran through the track and, while running, Sylvester slipped and fell and one of the firearms he was carrying fell and skated in front of him.
He said when he retrieved the firearm and stood up, the deceased was pointing a firearm at him. He shouted at Des Vignes to drop it, but he failed to do so and Sylvester discharged two rounds from the gun he had in his possession.
However, Jesop said all this was untrue.
Agreed evidence between the State and defence from Des Vignes’s cousin, Jacqueline Des Vignes, was also read during the trial.
She said she reached the shed and saw Des Vignes lying on the ground. She knelt down by him and he had three $5 bills in his hand and an injury to his head. She said he was wearing a sleeveless camouflage jersey and three-quarter pants.
The matter is expected to continue today with the State calling its next witness.
The prosecution is being represented by attorneys Ambay Ramkellawan and Indira Chinebas.
Senior Counsel Imran Khan is also representing Sylvester along with Skerritt.