Father of missing state witness – Tobago cops dragging their feet

MISSING: Ishmael Roberts. -
MISSING: Ishmael Roberts. -

FOR the past three months, the family of missing state witness Ishmael Roberts, 24, have been left with more questions than answers.

Roberts, a THA labourer, originally from Bethel but living in Plymouth, left home on February 28 and has not been seen or heard from since. He is a witness in a 2016 murder case.

Speaking with Newsday on June 4, Roberts’ father, Dave Raphael, said his son was last seen in Bethel checking on his friends and grandmother.

“He was seen in Scarborough around 3.30 pm, but later information which we would have asked and enquired, they would have seen him in Bethel. After that he never returned home.”

The father said his son left his Plymouth home to collect his salary, as he worked with the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP), under the THA Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development.

“He is a diabetic, so he had to reach home in time to take his medication – he is type-one diabetic.”

Raphael said he made a report to the Shirvan Road police station and also contacted the Hunters Search and Rescue Team.

“The police have continually been dragging their feet. They never went searching for him. As a matter of fact, when this matter happened, several police stations in Tobago did not even know that our son was missing. I would have called other stations in Tobago to find out if they knew of my son, as he is a state witness.”

The search and rescue team looked for Roberts in Tobago but was unable to find him.

“We’ve been begging the police for information. The investigating officer, he’s never around, he’s always on holidays – so every time he goes on holidays, the case goes on holidays too.

"Nobody calls us. The Anti-Kidnapping Unit called us probably twice. If we don’t call, they don’t call and they haven’t called in two months. The Shirvan Road police don’t call – we call to find out and they never have nothing (sic) new to say.”

He said the family remains worried.

He said Roberts is not the type to just leave without informing his relatives.

"Every time you pass his room, it’s empty.

"This is not a good feeling, it cannot be a good feeling. As a matter of fact, I don’t even wish this on the person who took him away. I don’t wish anything like this on them.

"To me, this is evil perpetrated against a family, and the authorities have failed us; the judicial system, it’s a total failure."

Raphael said he has resorted to paying people to search for his son.

“I paid people for nearly two and a half months to search all over Tobago – through the bushes, everywhere where we thought it was possible that someone could have taken him, if they murdered him, if they buried him – we looked. We did everything humanly possible.”

He is clinging to hope.

“Is only God knows. Not having the body of this child makes us believe that he is alive somewhere. That is all you can believe now, you don’t want to believe that he was killed, that he is dead. You don’t want to believe that. We believe that he is alive and he would come home.

"At this stage, all we’re asking is for whoever have him to send him home, and we will done away with that and leave it for Almighty God to take over.”

Tobago Division Snr Supt Rodhill Kirk said he is aware of the matter.

“We know that we are sometimes lacking in terms of giving feedback.

"Once a person is missing for a certain length of time and certain information comes to hand, the Anti-Kidnapping Unit would be involved in it as well.

"In some investigations, we cannot give away accuracy for speed.”

He said Raphael should visit the Shirvan Road police station, where the matter was reported, and speak with either the investigating officer or the inspector in charge.

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"Father of missing state witness – Tobago cops dragging their feet"

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