A 38-year-old Sangre Grande man was freed on Wednesday of the murder of a Tobago man during a home invasion 13 years ago.
Mark Blake was on trial in the Tobago High Court before Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds, who threw out an alleged confession he gave to police. The judge, in throwing out the statement, upheld a preliminary application by Blake’s attorney, Wayne Sturge.
The alleged confession was the only evidence linking Blake to the crime. In the application, Sturge contended Blake had been beaten and threatened to make him sign the pre-recorded statement, in which he allegedly confessed to murdering 20-year-old Larry Renwrick-Phillips and attempting to murder his 21-year-old friend Darion Picton.
“The accused will contend that he was made to remain in a cold airconditioned room in his underwear only until agreeing to take part in an interview,” Sturge said in the application. Sturge also challenged a photocopy of the statement being tendered into evidence, as the original could not be found by police.
Ramsumair-Hinds held a voir dire (trial within a trial), in which two police officers and a justice of the peace testified.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Garfield Moore claimed Blake cursed and threatened police when he was arrested.
Snr Supt Vincel Edwards, who made a copy of the statement and misplaced the original, also testified. In his evidence, JP Carlton Phillips, who certified the statement, admitted to not being present during the interview and that he did not ask Blake if he had been told of his legal rights or allowed to speak to an attorney.
Sturge contended the JP acted as a rubber stamp for the police and not an impartial judicial officer.
On March 27, 2005, Renwrick-Phillips and Picton were at an apartment at Glen Road, Scarborough , when they were attacked by two knife-wielding intruders.
Renwrick-Phillips died on the scene, while Picton survived.