Thursday 17th May, 2007


Vindra kidnapping/murder

Prime suspect surrenders

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Murder accused Allan Martin, left, walks with his attorney Larry Williams on their way to speak with the media on Maraval Road, Newtown, last night. Photo: Anthony Harris


IN A dramatic late night development, Homicide detectives arrested Allan Martin—the man alleged to be the mastermind in the kidnap and murder of Xtra Foods chief executive officer Vindra Naipaul-Coolman—on Maraval Road in Port-of-Spain, outside state-owned Caribbean New Media Group (CNMG) studio.

Martin was held shortly after he gave an interview to members of the media in which he protested his innocence, claiming it was “a set-up” and “conspiracy by the police.”

“The police know what mischief they are up to,” he said, as he called the names of two senior police officers.

Police yesterday launched a nationwide manhunt for Martin, 34, whose last known address was corner of Gandhi Street and Caroni Old Road, Caroni. He is originally from La Puerta in Diego Martin and is the father of eight.

He said he knew the ten men arrested and charged with Naipaul-Coolman’s murder, but said they, too, were innocent of the charge.

Martin also said he gave himself up to police in December in connection with the disappearance of Naipaul-Coolman but was released after one day and has since had several attempts made on his life.

He said he was willing to assist police in their investigations, but said he could not cut a deal since he did not know anything.

“How can you cut a deal, if you don’t know anything?” he said.

Martin said he had no connection with the underworld and felt he was a target because of his Muslim faith and his friendship with Selwyn “Robocop” Alexis, whom he described as his “Muslim brother.”

Hours before he was arrested by CID officers, Martin said he wanted to give himself up at the Success/Laventille Composite School where Prime Minister Patrick Manning and senior National Security and police officials were holding a public crime consultation.

After his short interview with the media, Martin was arrested and read his rights by PC Amon of the Port-of-Spain CID and taken to CID headquarters on St Vincent Street, in the company of his attorney Larry Williams.

At around 7.30 last night, Williams informed the media his client wanted to surrender to the police, but not before he had cleared his name publicly.

He arrived at CNMG’s studios at Maraval Road at around 9.50 pm.

Martin, who had been on the run, and who police strongly believed would have fled the country, was contacted by his wife after she got wind that the police had issued a wanted poster and bulletin stating that Martin might be attempting to flee the country and that he was believed to be armed and dangerous.

Martin, who goes by the alias “Scanny,” has been charged along with ten other suspects, bringing to 11 the number of people charged with the businesswoman’s murder to date.

The charge was laid based on the same information police have in their possession which led to the criminal prosecution against the ten others.

Police, who said they were relentlessly pursuing all leads in the Naipaul-Coolman abduction and murder, also said yesterday that charges were expected to be laid against two more men involved in the crime.

A medical doctor is also being sought by authorities.

Naipaul-Coolman was snatched by gunmen outside her Radix Road home in Lange Park, Chaguanas, on December 19, 2006.

The case, which went cold last year, turned last week when investigators, during a massive raid on the hillside community of La Puerta in Diego Martin, yielded significant pieces of evidence which led to the arrest and eventual charges being laid against the 11 men so far.

Tenth accused appears in court

Murder accused Lyndon James is escorted to the Port-of-Spain Magistrates Court yesterday. Photo: Karla Ramoo


Another Upper La Puerta, Diego Martin, man—the tenth person accused of murdering Xtra Foods chief executive officer Vindra Naipaul-Coolman has appeared in court.

Lyndon “Iron” James stood alone in the prisoners’ docks before Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls yesterday, close to an hour after the other nine charged with Naipaul-Coolman’s slaying made their second appearance in court.

On Monday, the nine accused men went before Senior Magistrate Lianne Lee Kim on the indictable charge.

They are Shevon “Buffy” Peters, 20; Ronald “22” Armstrong, 27; Akiel “Crime B” Gloster, 20; Keidan “Ileida” Garcia, 22; Earl “Bobo” Tremmingham, 24; Marlon “Madman” Tremmingham, 23; Antonio “Hedges” Charles, 29; Joey “Joey Ogiste” Lewis, 21, and Joel “Ninja” Fraser, 23.

They reappeared yesterday before Mc Nicolls, only three with lawyers and the others yet to secure legal representation.

James, the eldest of the ten at 34 years-old, stood silently as the charge was read to him by the Chief Magistrate.

His appearance was brief and he was walked to the St Vincent Street courthouse by police, unlike the nine others who had to be brought in an Amalgamated Security prisons van.

He and the others are expected to reappear in court on May 25.

James, an air-condition technician, was allegedly held by police at the Piarco International Airport on Monday as he was about to board a flight to St Vincent.

Yesterday, there was still a no-show of relatives of the slain businesswoman, but those of the nine men packed the Eighth Court and communicated with them in hushed tones, hand gestures and nods of the head as they were being led out the courtroom.

Earlier, Gloster’s lawyer Theodore Guerra, SC, complained that his client had been kept in custody for six days before he was taken to court and asked that the preliminary inquiry begin.

“I am ready” Guerra said, although told by the Chief Magistrate that the other accused men were still to get lawyers.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Carla Brown-Antoine, who was present in court for another case, said she was unaware of anyone being kept in custody, adding that she would make inquiries in response to Guerra’s claim.

Attorney Patrick Godson-Phillip, who represents Fraser, again renewed his application for disclosure of station diary extracts during his client’s incarceration, as well as copies of interviews and statements taken.

It is alleged that James, together with others on a day unknown between December 18, 2006, and May 12, 2007, at Upper La Puerta, Diego Martin, murdered Naipaul-Coolman.

Although ten men are before the courts for Naipaul-Coolman’s murder, ACP (Homicide) Maurice Piggott said at a media briefing on Monday that police investigations were “far from over.”


Chaguanas Chamber shares family’s pain

The Greater Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce has extended condolences to the family and relatives of murdered businesswoman Vindra Naipaul-Coolman.

In a statement yesterday, the chamber said Naipaul-Coolman’s “contribution to our society were immeasurable and now her death, though not unexpected, after this long period, has seared the hearts of our community, reliving the nightmares and speculation of her kidnapping, the manner of her treatment in the hands of her kidnappers and fears for our family.”

It stated, “With this pain comes the cry for vengeance against the perpetrators. Apparent closure has now come to this dastardly affair and with it the end of speculation. We share the pain of the family knowing that their greatest fears have been realised.”

The chamber also commended members of the protective services for its use of modern-day forensic techniques which they said was instrumental in this case.

The chamber stated the necessary legislation must be put in place to ensure that “such evidence was widely used in all avenues of criminal investigation.”

The organisation is also calling on the Government to expand the forensic capabilities in this regard.

In the statement, the chamber said it hoped that in all investigations “due process is used to ensure there is conviction of the guilty parties. It is our fervent wish that final closure can come quickly, to all of us, when her (Naipaul-Coolman’s) remains are found.

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