Police: Sean Luke’s body was decomposing in canefield

Sean Luke. -
Sean Luke. -

SEAN LUKE’S body was in an advanced state of decomposition when it was found by police and there were maggots on the face.

His body was naked and liquid was leaking from the eyes and nose.

That was the evidence of two police officers who formed part of the police’s investigative team when the six-year-old’s body was found on March 28, 2006.

A tattered-looking pair of underpants and a pair of shorts were also tendered into evidence on the second day of the judge-only trial of the two men charged with Luke’s murder.

Akeel Mitchell, 28, and Richard Chatoo, 30, are before Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds charged with Luke’s murder on a date unknown between March 25 and 29, 2006.

Luke had been sodomised with a sugar cane stalk that ruptured his intestines and internal organs. He died from internal bleeding.

Three police officers who were part of the investigative team testified virtually on Wednesday, at the trial.

Sgt Dane James testified he interviewed several people around the area where Luke lived at Henry Street, Orange Valley, Couva. One of them was Chatoo. At Chatoo’s home, James took a statement from him about the boy, who, at that time, was only missing.

Cpl Kemraj Ragoonath, a homicide officer at the time, was grilled by defence attorneys for both men about one of the boys Luke was last seen with before he was reported missing by his mother.

Ragoonath had taken blood samples for DNA analysis from Chatoo, but not Mitchell who refused. He did take a pair of sneakers from Mitchell and a cap. These items, along with the blood samples and a piece of chewing gum he received from an officer were taken to the Forensic Science Centre (FSC).

Ragoonath could not say why blood samples were not taken from Avinash Baboolal, one of the boys who at the time was assisting police in their investigations. Ragoonath said villagers were questioned and Baboolal was taken to the station based on information he might have had that would assist the police.

It was Ragoonath’s second or third homicide and he said he was also present when Luke’s body was found in the early morning of March 28. The officer said Ragoonath spoke to the police the day after the body was found, although he previously said it was the day before.

He also could not account for why Baboolal was not questioned about the varying accounts he gave when, at first, he said “Richard” was not involved in taking Luke into the bush, but then changing it to say Richard went into the bush. Ragoonath, who took notes while another officer questioned Baboolal, also could not recall if Baboolal was asked about someone named Keshon, whom he also mentioned.

He said Baboolal took them into the cane field and pointed out several spots to them, but not where the body was found. But, he added, everyone knew where the body was found. “It was no guarded secret.”

And, he also did not see a cane stalk inserted in Luke’s body, only liquid oozing from it.

Retired police crime scene investigator and fingerprint expert, Cpl Ivan Nicols found Luke’s clothing which had been identified by the child’s mother.

He collected the items after they were photographed by the police photographer and placed them in evidence bags. The items were taken to the FSC and sealed in evidence bags. Nicols broke the seals to the bags during his testimony on Wednesday, to identify the items. The clothing was found the day before Luke’s body was discovered with the assistance of a police dog. Nicols said he saw the decomposed body lying in a supine position with maggots to the face.

It was naked. He took soil and vegetation samples close to the body and also measurements.

In cross-examination, Nicols could not recall getting information about a pond, but said there was a drain nearby. He said he boy’s body did not appear blue, but it was in an advanced stage of decomposition. The soil samples were taken for trace testing but he said he did not know Mitchell’s shoes were taken from him as potential evidence.

He said he did a visual examination of the body and saw nothing peculiar. He also did not see a cane stalk protruding from the body, but there was a pungent odour.

Nicols returns on Friday to complete his testimony. Also expected to testify then are four civilian witnesses, including Lumfai.

Mitchell and Chatoo are represented by attorneys Mario Merritt, Evans Welch, Kirby Joseph, Randall Raphael, Kelston Pope and Gabriel Hernandez. State attorneys Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal, Anju Bhola and Sophia Sandy-Smith are prosecuting at the trial which is being held in hybrid form, with witnesses testifying virtually from certain court locations, and attorneys from their respective offices.

Both men are following their trial from the Maximum Security Prison virtual court facility for prisoners.


"Police: Sean Luke’s body was decomposing in canefield"

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