Accused Couva cocaine addict asks court for help to kick habit

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Smoking image courtesy Pixabay

A cocaine user has asked the High Court for help to try to kick his bad habit.

Kawal Mungal, of Couva, was charged in 2020 with housebreaking and arson, which happened while he was lighting cocaine in a piece of foil inside a family’s home at Preysal.

On the housebreaking charge, he had faced a magistrate who sentenced him to 18 months in jail after he pleaded guilty.

The arson charge was heard separately in the High Court, where he pleaded guilty.

The case was heard before Justice George Busby in the Princes Town Court (Trinidad South District) on June 5, but Mungal was absent. He is in police custody and was not brought to court. The case was adjourned in absentia to July 25 at 9 am.

Court documents showed Mungal’s attorney, Michelle Ali, in her mitigation plea at a previous hearing, had asked the court to consider rehabilitative prospects for her client, who wants to stop using the drug.

She added that although Mungal has been sober for the past three years, he is afraid the influences of society might land him back in the same bad habits and asked for the court’s help. The attorney also asked for him to have counselling.

Mungal’s criminal records tracings showed several convictions and pending matters since 1995.

The charges included having cocaine, housebreaking and larceny, storebreaking and larceny, and malicious damage.

The state prosecutor was attorney Samantha Marajh.

The state contends that at around 6 am on January 15, 2020, homeowner Tariq Driggs, his wife and their two children left their two-storey house in Preysal. Driggs locked all the doors and windows and turned on the house alarm.

At around 1 pm, PC Vishnu Nanan and other police got a report that the house was on fire and went to the scene.

Driggs was also alerted and returned home at around 2 pm.

They saw a window at the side of the house had been opened and the burglarproofing prised open and bent upwards.

The couch set and TV in the living room by that window were damaged by fire, and there was smoke and water damage inside the house.

Driggs’ bedroom had been ransacked, and a phone worth $1,000 and a bag of US coins worth US$20 were missing.

The police later viewed footage from a video camera installed in the house.

The next day, they arrested Mungal in Balmain, Couva, and took him to the Gran Couva police station.

He told the police that on the day of the incident, he went to pick two/three green pommecytheres and ended up by the blue house.

He decided to smoke cocaine, used a pickaxe to break open the burglarproofing and got into the house through the window.

He decided to take another smoke, and while he was lighting his cocaine on a foil paper, a nearby curtain caught on fire. He tried to put it out, then left.