Two men appeared in separate courts on Tuesday charged with the domestic violence-related murders of two women while another man appeared in court, also on Tuesday, for the Pinto triple murder which police have classified as a robbery-homicide. The appearance of the three men marked a breakthrough by police in five of the 11 murders committed this year.
Vishal Birju appeared in the Siparia Magistrates court charged with the murder of his ex-girlfriend Gabriella Du Barry, five days after she was gunned down in her Avocat Village, Fyzabad home.
Kirk Fields stood in the Port of Spain Eighth Magistrates Court charged with the murder of his former wife Jezelle Philip, eight days after she was fatally stabbed at her workplace, a preschool on George Street in Port of Spain.
Nathaniel Ellis went before an Arima Magistrate charged with the strangulation murders of a Pinto Road, Arima family of three one of whom lived away and was visiting for the Christmas holidays.
SHAKING ACCUSED SENT TO ST ANN’S
In the Siparia case, Birju stood shaking in front of magistrate Ava Vandenberg-Bailey to answer the charge of murdering Du Barry who was an insurance executive. Birju, 30, of Pepper Village, Fyzabad appeared highly agitated in the courtroom.
The magistrate read the charge that on Thursday January 9, he murdered Du Barry at her home in Jebodsingh Drive, Avocat Village, Fyzabad.
The charge was laid indictably by Cpl Harripersad of the Homicide Investigations Bureau (Region Three) and Birju was not called upon to plead. He was represented by attorney Nazima Ali Knox.
Du Barry, who was cremated on Sunday, was killed a day before her 28th birthday. She was the mother of a seven-year-old boy. After reading the charge, the magistrate asked Birju why he was shaking.
Attorney Knox said that based on the behaviour her client displayed while in custody, he should be sent for a psychiatric evaluation. She said for the past few days, her client had not been able to follow proper instructions from the police. She also asked for her client to be medically examined.
But prosecutor Sgt Starr Jacob said while she was not objecting to the attorney’s request, based on her information from the police, Birju had not shown any sign of medical incapability while in custody. “He was coherent during the enquiries, I understand,” Jacob said.
The magistrate made a note and ordered Birju to be sent to St Ann’s for observation, evaluation and medical examination. As he was being led out of the Birju, on seeing media photographers gathered outside, quickly turned his head in an attempt to escape being photographed. The case was adjourned to January 28.
Police said that a man entered Du Barry’s home where he first met a female relative of the woman. The man ordered the relative to duck but she ran screaming out of the house. She later told police of hearing three gunshots followed by the intruder exiting the house and running off. Du Barry’s body was found in a bedroom.
Police confirmed that she had visited the courts where she applied for a restraining order against a man whom she previously had a relationship with.
MURDER IN PRE-SCHOOL
At the Port of Spain Magistrates Court, Kirk Fields appeared before Chief Magistrate Maria Busby Earle-Caddle charged with the murder of Jezelle Philip who was fatally stabbed on Monday January 6.
A police prosecutor said they handed over a summary of evidence to Fields’ attorneys, Richard Clarke-Wills and Yves Jaques Nicholson, and are compiling a file to be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Because his attorneys were not present in court, Fields spoke to the magistrate on his own behalf, and said it was his first time in court and he did not know the proceedings. He told the magistrate that he had been in a holding cell since the incident occurred. He pleaded with Busby Earle-Caddle to expedite the process so he could get to trial.
Busby Earle-Caddle explained proceedings of the court and told him that ultimately, his fate would lie in the hands of the high court. She said he had the option of pleading guilty after which, they would go to sentencing.
She told Fields he had the option of returning to court within 28 days or six weeks.
On hearing this, Fields became visibly distressed and Busby Earle-Caddle asked him if he was experiencing difficulty.
A woman seated at the back of the court gestured to Busby Earle-Caddle but she cautioned her to stop. “He can speak for himself,” she told the woman.
It was then revealed that Fields suffered from a heart condition. Busby Earle-Caddle asked whether he was allowed to visit a doctor and he said he did. The case was adjourned to February 27.
Police said that shortly after opening her school, Baby Pre-School on the morning of Monday January 6, a man entered the building and stabbed Philip repeatedly as she was teaching a class of infants. The man later surrendered to Besson Street police. Philip later died at hospital.
In the last case, 31-year-old Ellis was taken to the Arima Magistrates Court charged with the murders of Polly-Ann Chuniesingh, her brother Damian Chuniesingh and their uncle Randy Chuniesingh. The latter lived in Canada and was back in Trinidad for the Christmas vacation.
All three were found dead in Polly-Ann’s home at Get Well Avenue, Pinto Road, Arima. A release from the TTPS stated that Ellis was arrested by Pinto Road police two days after the Chuniesinghs’ bodies were found. Homicide investigators, the TTPS release said, received advice from DPP Roger Gaspard to charge Ellis on Monday. An autopsy found that the Chuniesinghs were all strangled.
Jewellery and cash had gone missing from their house. Investigations were supervised by ASP Sean Dhilpaul and Sgt Hosein, both of Homicide Bureau of Investigations (Region 2).
While the case has not been classified as a domestic violence-related murder by police, Polly-Ann’s relatives said in earlier interviews that she had been a victim of domestic violence in that a man whom she ended a relationship with, had tried to poison her by lacing a drink last December. Relatives added that Polly-Ann had planned to go to the magistrates court, on the day she was found murdered, to apply for a restraining order against the man, who police said was picked up for questioning after the bodies were found but released later.
Reporting by RYAN-HAMILTON DAVIS, STACY MOORE and SHANE SUPERVILLE