Soldier acquitted of assaulting fellow soldier in 2006

- File photo
- File photo

A soldier has been acquitted of assaulting another soldier on the Brian Lara Promenade, Port of Spain, in 2006.

On February 29, Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds found Joel De Suze not guilty when she delivered her verdict at his judge-only trial.

It was alleged De Suze assaulted Stephen Douglas, now a former private in the regiment, on March 23, 2006, on George Street, Port of Spain, leaving him with a broken jaw.

De Suze’s trial began on February 5, at the O’Meara Judicial Centre, Arima.

It was the prosecution’s case that Douglas, while trying to flag down a taxi to take him to a girlfriend’s home at Trou Macaque, Laventille, was confronted by De Suze, with whom he had a history.

In his testimony, Douglas admitted to a previous incident between himself and De Suze in November 2003. This led to Douglas’s demotion from lance corporal to private.

In her verdict, Ramsumair-Hinds said De Suze did not have to prove an alibi, and although she found discrepancies in his alibi evidence, she said it did not affect her unduly, as she could not completely reject it.

“I had to be sure you were on George Street breaking the man’s jaw.”

De Suze’s defences were alibi, fabrication and denial.

At the end of her assessment of the evidence, Ramsumair-Hinds said the State did not satisfy her beyond a reasonable doubt the soldier was guilty of the offence for which he was charged, before telling De Suze he was not guilty.

On the day of the alleged incident, Douglas said, around 6.45 pm, he saw De Suze standing on the Brian Lara Promenade close to "the toilet area" on Henry Street.

Douglas said after spotting De Suze, he continued walking towards the Trou Macaque taxi stand. On arriving there, he noticed that De Suze was walking in the same direction.

He said as he tried to stop a taxi on the stand, he saw De Suze standing on the opposite side of the road, at the Morvant stand, looking at him.

Sensing De Suze had some type of ill intention, Douglas testified that he decided to walk lower down George Street, but as he was doing so, De Suze followed him.

He claimed De Suze grabbed him from behind on his right shoulder, spun him, forcibly turned him around and threatened him with death, then began punching him in the head.

During the assault, Douglas said he became unconscious.

When he awoke, another soldier took him to the Port of Spain General Hospital. Douglas said he was warded and had oral surgery because of the broken jaw.

During cross-examination by De Suze's attorney, Amerelle Francis, Douglas insisted De Suze was the one who carried out the assault.

“He hit me multiple times about the face…It was an ambush, I was not prepared.”

After his testimony, Ayanna CoAmerelle Francisx, the aunt of Douglas' girlfriend, testified.

She said, around 7.30 pm., she was at the taxi stand and saw a fight taking place.

“I was looking at the fight. There was a crowd in front of me.”

She said she saw three men beating another, and then two of them ran off and one remained kicking and cuffing the man on the ground.

She recognised the alleged victim’s black-and-white Puma sneakers. Cox said Douglas was “in and out of it,” with blood running down his hands.

“He was not fully of himself.”

Cox said she did not speak to Douglas and saw someone go up to him and said he was taking him to the hospital. The altercation she witnessed lasted three minutes, she said.

The judge also said the medical evidence undermined Cox’s testimony.

De Suze was represented by Amerelle Francis. Charmaine Samuel prosecuted De Suze.


"Soldier acquitted of assaulting fellow soldier in 2006"

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