3 freed of 2005 Oxford Street double murder

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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THREE men being tried a second time for the murder of a Port of Spain couple in 2005 have been freed by a High Court judge who found the prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that they had anything to do with the couple’s death.

Kamau Farai, Hamid Neils, and Devon Sookoo were before Justice Kathy Ann Waterman-Latchoo for the January 12, 2005, murder of Susan Rajcoomar and her common-law husband Shyam Ramdass, of Oxford Street, Port of Spain.

In April 2019, when they first went on trial, the three received mixed verdicts. After deliberating for over five hours, the jury could not come up with six unanimous verdicts on the three.

Farai and Sookoo were found not guilty of murdering Rajcoomar, while the jury could not arrive at a unanimous verdict on Neils.

For Ramdass’s murder, the jury found Neils not guilty of the offence, but could not agree on a verdict for Farai and Sookoo.

This meant at their retrial, Neils stood accused of Rajcoomar’s murder, while his co-accused faced a trial for Ramdass’s killing.

On Friday, delivering her verdict after a judge-only trial that began in March, Waterman-Latchoo found all three not guilty. She said there were several inconsistencies in the evidence of the State’s main witness, the couple’s son Johan.

According to the evidence presented in the case, Johan was standing in the yard when three men confronted him and shot him in the head.

Rajcoomar came outside on hearing the gunshot and was shot several times.

While the men were standing over his mother, Johan claimed he managed to scurry away and hide at a neighbouring property.

From there, he allegedly watched as the men repeatedly chopped his father.

Johan survived the attack, but was killed in 2017, in an incident not related to his parents’ murder. His testimony from the preliminary inquiry was tendered into evidence during the trial.

The men insisted they were innocent.

Farai said on the morning of the killing, he met a friend, Onika James, now a police officer, at Lastique Street, Port of Spain, to offer support because her brother had died. Neils said he was at home at Lastique Street and Sookoo said he was dropping off his nephews and nieces to school in Barataria and St Augustine.

Rajcoomar, 51, was shot and chopped on the head, neck and hands and died minutes after the attack. Ramdass, 52, who was also shot and had his left hand severed, died later at the Port of Spain General Hospital.

Farai was represented by attorney Darren Mitchell. Public defenders Nicholas Rampersadsingh and Michelle Gonzales represented Neils and attorney Sheldon Mitchell represented Sookoo.