TWO Sea Lots men whose preliminary inquiry had to be aborted when former chief magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar was appointed a High Court judge, were yesterday freed of the murder of three central fishermen in 2012.
Brandon Peltier, 33, and Jomel Francis, 24, were arrested in 2012, for the murder of Kasinath Ramsaran, 31, his younger brother, Ravi, 26, both of Cacandee Road, Felicity and their friend, Prem Squires, 52 of Longdenville, Chaguanas.
The three fishermen disappeared on January 10, 2012, and their bodies were found floating in the Gulf of Paria, three days later.
Peltier and Francis first appeared in the Port of Spain Magistrates’ Court before Ayers-Caesar two weeks later, charged with the fishermen’s murder.
The preliminary inquiry began in September 2014, and was one of several cases left in abeyance when she resigned as chief magistrate to take up a judgeship in April, last year.
The matter had to be aborted and eventually restarted before Chief Magistrate Maria Busby Earle-Caddle, earlier this year.
Earle-Caddle yesterday upheld the no-case submission of defence attorney Chase Pegus, who
argued that there was no evidence against either of the men.
The prosecution’s case fell after the state was unable to locate its only witness who allegedly implicated the two men in three statements he gave to the police in 2012.
Although 30 witness statements were tendered by the prosecution, it was those of Earl Mitchell’s that alleged Peltier and Francis caught the three fishermen pulling up Peltier’s fishing net in the gulf, tied them up, plannassed them and threw them in the water before dropping an anchor on their bodies.
Mitchell, of Beetham Gardens, was allegedly with the two men when the incident occurred.
However, he was said to have moved out of the area and relocated to somewhere in central Trinidad.
The prosecution sought to have Mitchell’s statements tendered into evidence under section 15 ( c ) of the Evidence Act, on the basis that all reasonable steps had been taken to locate the witness but he could not be found.
Pegus questioned the police officer in charge of the case on the attempts he made to locate Mitchell. The officer said he checked in Tobago, Mt Hope, Port of Spain, Beetham and even on Facebook in an attempt to find the witness. He could not, and also admitted he did not seek to have Mitchell’s photograph and information shown on the police-sanctioned “Beyond the Tape” programme as a person of interest.
A summons had also been issued to compel Mitchell to come to court.
Earle-Caddle ruled against the admission of the three statements, and Pegus submitted that there was no evidence linking his clients to the murder.
The magistrate agreed, and discharged the two.