Appeal Court blanks bail for cop jailed for raping teen

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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THE COURT of Appeal has declined an oral application for bail by the ex-cop serving an 18-year sentence for the rape of a teenager in 2008.

At the end of two days of hearings, attorneys for Visham Ragoo asked the court to consider granting him bail until it gives its decision on the fairness of his 2019 trial.

Ragoo has challenged his conviction, complaining of the handling of his case by the trial judge and the incompetence of his trial attorney.

Ragoo’s lead attorney at the appeal, Pamela Elder, SC, asked the judges to consider bail.

After standing down the matter for a short while, Justices of Appeal Mark Mohammed, Maria Wilson, and Ronnie Boodoosingh declined the application, but told Elder she could formally apply for bail pending an appeal, which was still incomplete.

Mohammed said the issues raised in the appeal were interrogated, but the court was far from a decision, as arguments were still required on material grounds of complaints raised.

“Both sides have given us deep intellectual food for thought,” he said.

The judges have asked for further submissions relating to the cross-examination of Ragoo and his trial lawyer, Selwyn Ramlal, on Wednesday.

They also want arguments and case law on good character directions, since, as Mohammed said, the court was being asked to deviate from a previous decision on the issue.

“It needs careful interrogation,” Mohammed said, adding that it was a complex but engaging aspect of the law of great evidential importance.

Attorneys for both sides were given until June 24 to file submissions on those issues and the court said it was likely to have another hearing in July or August if it required to hear the parties on those arguments.

Ragoo is serving an 18-year sentence for five offences against a 17-year-old girl, including rape, and has challenged his conviction on the basis of the alleged incompetence of his trial attorney.

Ragoo, 43, of Carapichaima, claims Ramlal did not follow his instructions during the trial and did not properly advise him on whether he should testify in his defence. He has also faulted the trial judge’s admission of some evidence used against him.

Ragoo was accused of rape, common assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, false imprisonment and two grievous sexual assault charges related to two incidents on February 4 and June 12, 2008.

He was found guilty of all the charges except one of the grievous sexual assaults and Justice Carla Brown-Antoine sentenced him to a total of 43 years in prison, the sentences to run concurrently so he was only made to serve 18 years.

Ragoo is also being represented by Russell Warner. Assistant DPP Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal represents the State at the appeal.