A police photographer with 30 years’ service had to defend himself at the trial of the two men accused of killing Mala Mohammed, the wife of former supermarket owner Khalid "Uncle Khalid" Mohammed, in 2004.
Acting Insp Veno Ragoo was the prosecution’s first witness and spent almost all day in the witness box being cross-examined on Monday by Dane Swann’s attorney Mario Merritt, who accused the policeman of lying in his evidence.
On trial before Justice Maria Wilson are Sheldon Reed, of Howard Street, Five Rivers, and Swann, of Bertie Street, Arouca for the May 10, 2004, murder of Mala Mohammed at her Edward Street, Princes Town home.
Ragoo testified that he took photographs on May 10 and 11, 2004, and again on February 17 and 18, 2005. He took 17 photographs in all and those were tendered into evidence during his testimony.
On the first two occasions on May 10 and 11, on instructions from a senior police officer, Ragoo took photographs of Mohammed’s house and its garage area; her body lying face down in a pool of blood; two bullet shell casings – one in the garage and the other, taken the next day, in a green Volvo; the back of the house; and a spot on one of the vehicles in the garage.
On February 17, he went back to the house and took photographs there as well as two areas – Tasker Road, and Tramline Street, both in Princes Town – and the next day he took photographs of two buildings on Edward Street.
It was his testimony relating to his return to the house on February 17 that raised contention with Swann's defence.
Ragoo was questioned on testimony he gave at the preliminary inquiry at the magistrates’ court, when he claimed Swann pointed out Mohammed’s house.
Asked how he was able to identify Swann when he did not see him, but only saw gestures he made from the back of a police vehicle, Ragoo said Insp George told him the accused was Dane Swann.
He said on that day the accused person was in the police vehicle and the window would go down and he would make a gesture, and George would come to him and point out things to him with instructions to take photographs.
He was also asked how he was able to point out Swann at the magistrates’ court twice, when he did not see him on February 17. Ragoo said all he was asked was whether he could point out Swann, which he did.
He said he was never asked if that was the person he interacted with on February 17.
Merritt: “You are such a liar.”
Ragoo: “That’s not true.”
The police officer repeatedly denied he was telling lies in his testimony. He also said it would be incorrect to say Swann pointed out nothing to him.
According to prosecutors, both men gave confession statements admitting to being at Mohammed’s house, although neither of them admitted to the shooting.
Swann also allegedly accompanied the police to an area atthe back of Mohammed’s house where he claimed to have disposed of pieces of his clothing after the killing.
State attorneys Joy Balkaran and Candace Nanton are prosecuting, Defence attorney Wayne Sturge is representing Reed. Also appearing for the defence are Alexia Romero and Karunaa Bisramsingh.