Saturday Express Editorial

SEVERAL lessons are to be learnt from the tale of the young man from Penal who confessed that he had lied about having been abducted.

He had, it turns out, absconded with money from his employer, lost it in a gambling spree and then wondered how to get out of the predicament into which he had placed himself.

He hid for several days and then, perhaps overcome by a haunting sense of guilt, came out of hiding with a tale as tall as his twisted logic would allow.

He told relatives and police investigators of having been taken at gunpoint by Venezuelan nationals who beat him and forced him to work for them in bushes somewhere in the deep south. His duties, he said, included the cleaning of guns. He said in the process he was robbed of the money he had on him.

This had at first appeared to be one of the ever-increasing incidents involving missing persons in T&T. Police bulletins almost on a daily basis tell of people of varying ages, gender and ethnicity who are so listed.

In many instances, however, the news is one of relief for worried family members and friends of persons so highlighted. They are found, often with no visible signs of harm or trauma. Regrettably, many people remain unaccounted for.

Police search parties had been assigned the case of this 24-year-old Penal man, spending days and considerable intelligence-gathering resources in their search for him. All of this turned out to be a waste of time and resources when the man, presumably under pressure from police questioning, decided to confess. He had gone on a gambling spree in which he lost his employer’s money and then could not think of how to extricate himself from this self-created mess.

He later asked for forgiveness from all those he had deceived. Appropriately, but ironically, he thanked the police for the deployment of officers in what turned out to a hoax. He begged for forgiveness from his loved ones, including his two children, and to the public at large.

Taken to court later on the charge of wasting police time, he was found guilty and fined $600.

One of the most immediate reactions from a duped public may well be to question the disappearance of others and to challenge their stories if and when they show up. It takes away from the critical need for genuine concern in this atmosphere of hyper-vigilance in which a majority of citizens are now forced to exist. In such a context, it appears necessary to implore members of the police service to not lower the level of commitment devoted to missing persons’ reports.

This utterly misguided man’s dangerous folly ought not to minimise the urgency which naturally attaches to genuine cases of missing persons.

But perhaps above and beyond these concerns is the hope expressed on behalf of the population made increasingly weary by an unrelenting crime scourge, that this misadventure not become a model for others to copy. The embarrassment of being found out, and the legal consequences contingent upon that, should serve as effective prevention against any such inclination.

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