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Oropune residents smoke out suspected paedophile
A suspected paedophile remains warded in a critical condition at hospital, after being attacked by residents of Oropune Gardens in an alleged case of vigilante justice.
According to reports, around 9 pm Wednesday officers of the Arouca Police Station received a report of a wounded man lying on a road in the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) community in Piarco.
Police arrived on the scene shortly after and the man was taken to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mt Hope for treatment.
While speaking to residents, investigators learned that hours before they arrived the man was involved in an incident with a six-year-old girl from the community.
The child was reportedly walking with a group of her friends when the man attempted to lure her towards him.
“Come baby come. You are my cousin,” he reportedly said.
The girl ran home and reported the incident to her mother, who later found the man and confronted him.
The man then ran into a bushy area to hide. The mother notified neighbours, who came to her assistance and lit a fire in the bushy area in an attempt to “smoke out” the man from his hiding place.
The plan worked and the man reportedly ran straight towards the mob of residents. He was severely beaten and left at the side of the road until residents decided to contact police.
Investigators interviewed several residents who witnessed what transpired and participated in apprehending the man.
A photograph depicting the wounded man was later posted on social media websites and applications yesterday, along with a brief summary of the incident.
But police sources yesterday said they may not be able to charge the man as it did not appear that he committed any offence.
Investigators may also have to consult with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to decide whether charges should be laid against the residents for their overzealous citizens’ arrest.
Cpl Abraham and PC Charles are continuing investigations.
It was only last month that Woman’s activist and former Coalition Against Domestic Violence head Diana Mahabir-Wyatt warned citizens that it is against the law for communities to beat child predators and molesters when they are caught.
In that interview with the T&T Guardian, she said while the beatings would be a reaction against the sexual molester’s actions against the child, society should not take the law into their hands.
The comments she made came after it was reported that the Child Protection Unit had launched an investigation into the alleged sexual touching of a three-year-old child by a man believed to be in his late 20’s.
That suspect was reportedly held by Arouca villagers and badly beaten before being handed over to the police. The child was taken to the Arima District Hospital where she was medically examined, but there was no evidence of sexual penetration.
A video of that incident, reportedly secretly shot by a relative, was leaked on social media.
Mahabir-Wyatt said in so far as the law is concerned, sexual abuse includes sexual touching, which can be part of a sexual grooming procedure that can lead to more serious aspects.
Although she had not seen the video, she said the punishment by the community “to me… that is a good example of how people in Trinidad deplore the kind of sexual molestation of children that has been taking place in T&T.”
She said what the villagers did in that matter “was very understandable because what they are saying is that they abhor this kind of abuse and they want to make it quite clear that if he (suspect) does that again he would be in more trouble.”
Mahabir-Wyatt said such beatings are usually not reported to the police either, but noted that in most cases the police accept the beating of the molester as a form of retribution for the act.
“Breaking the law is wrong and taking the law into your own hands is wrong. But in some cases of child sexual molestation, it is understandable that the public would heap scorn on an act like that and can lead to that sort of response. It’s a reaction.”
If a man is convicted of sexual abuse of a minor and sentenced to jail, Mahabir-Wyatt said they are also beaten by inmates who are fathers, grandfathers and uncles to show their disapproval.
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