Tobago man freed of kidnapping charge

Justice Hayden St Clair-Douglas -
Justice Hayden St Clair-Douglas -

A TOBAGO man who was accused of participating in kidnapping his cousin’s ex-girlfriend in 2008 has been acquitted by a judge.

At the end of a virtual judge-alone trial on Tuesday, Justice Hayden St Clair-Douglas gave his ruling on Jason Duncan’s innocence, saying in looking at the totality of the evidence presented by the State and Duncan’s own evidence, he was not sure of his guilt.

After announcing his verdict of not-guilty, St Clair-Douglas told Duncan he was discharged and free to go.

He was before the court charged with participating in kidnapping Shirl Douglas on December 27, 2008, in Tobago. His cousin Loney Duncan, who was also charged with kidnapping his ex-girlfriend, pleaded guilty previously and is serving time in prison for it.

Duncan opted for a judge-alone trial which began on November 2 and ended three days later after the three witnesses – Douglas, the police officer who charged Duncan, and Duncan himself – testified.

As is required by law, in judge-alone trials, the judge had 14 days to deliver his verdict and give his reasons for coming to his decision. In presenting his hour-long decision, St Clair-Douglas said the evidence presented by the State fell short to prove that Duncan had knowledge, at the time, that his cousin was kidnapping Douglas.

In her testimony, Douglas said that at about 11 pm that night, she, her niece and a male friend were going to a party at the Roxborough hard court when she heard someone call out her name. She didn’t recognise anyone and continued walking. When she saw a man walking towards her, she stopped and he pushed her to the ground. She recognised her attacker as her ex-boyfriend.

Douglas said he kept pushing her and then he called out to Duncan and she was bundled into the back seat of a car. Her niece was also pushed into the car.

A short while later, Duncan stopped the car while her ex-boyfriend hit her on the head with a glass bottle. Her ex pulled her out of the car, cuffed her and was about to kick her when Duncan pushed him away.

In testifying in his defence, Duncan said he had no idea his cousin was planning on kidnapping Douglas when he hired him for a private transport job that night. He said he was told Loney was going to pick up his girlfriend in Roxborough to go to a party nearby.

He said when they got to Roxborough, he parked outside a bar, went inside to buy a drink and told Loney to call him when he was ready to leave. He said when he returned to his car, Loney was in the front seat, while Douglas and her niece Tatianna Morgan were in the back.

Duncan said he could not tell that they were being held against their will by Loney at the time, but overheard him (Loney) accusing Douglas of infidelity.

He also testified that while driving towards Scarborough, Loney took Douglas' cellphone and gave it back when her mother was calling. He said she her mother that they had been kidnapped and when Loney hit her on the head with a beer bottle, he stopped the car to give the women an opportunity to escape.

The State was represented by prosecutor Giselle Heller-Ferguson while Amerelle Francis represented Douglas, who testified from the Judiciary’s virtual access customer centre at King’s Court, Port of Spain, for the duration of his trial.


"Tobago man freed of kidnapping charge"

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