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Tuesday 20 November 2018
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Woman freed of murderafter 12 years

THANKFUL: Ira Mitchell (second from left) is surrounded by her children, husband and other relatives after she was freed of murder in the San Fernando High Court yesterday.
THANKFUL: Ira Mitchell (second from left) is surrounded by her children, husband and other relatives after she was freed of murder in the San Fernando High Court yesterday.

AZARD ALI

IRA MITCHELL grew so frustrated waiting in jail for the past 12 years that she wanted to plead guilty to a murder she did not commit, she said yesterday.

A jury freed her, after 50 minutes of deliberation, for the 2000 killing of her uncle-in-law Balo Seurattan on January 15, the day after he had signed over his property to Mitchell’s husband, who was his nephew.

Mitchell shouted for joy outside the San Fernando High Court and hugged her five daughters who were seven, eight, ten, eleven and 12 when she was arrested, six years after an autopsy revealed Seurattan’s neck was broken.

“I pined away for 12 years waiting for justice,” Mitchell said.

“There are other women in jail and all they ask for is a date of hearing.

“Twelve years is a long time to wait for justice. You know how many women want to just plead guilty? I used to say, ‘Just plead guilty just so I will know when I will come out’.”

Mitchell, 39, lived with Matthew and their children at Petit Cafe, near Princes Town, where she took care of 60-year-old Seurattan, Matthew’s uncle, who was very ill and lived in the same house.

He was found dead in bed and the family called the police.

Forensic pathologist Dr Hughvon Des Vignes testified before Justice Hayden St Clair Douglas and a jury of 12 members that the broken neck Seurattan suffered was consistent with someone locking his neck.

State attorney Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal prosecuted and attorney Rekha Ramjit, instructed by attorney Jared Ali, defended Mitchell.

The defence called pathologist Prof Hubert Daisley, who disputed Des Vignes’ opinion, saying a broken neck could have been also caused by someone falling.

Mitchell had given a statement to police that Seurattan had fallen twice.

Matthew and his five daughters have been attending the trial, which began on January 3.

After the verdict was announced yesterday, the judge told Mitchell she was free to go and thanked the jury for their service.

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