Bail ruling for two charged with murder adjourned

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds. File photo –

THE TWO men who have each spent two decades on remand on a murder charge will have to wait a little longer to know if their bail applications are successful.

But for one of them, the judge who has to consider granting them bail pending the start of their judge-only trial has hinted the application looks “quite favourable” for one of them.

Before Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds are Ogee Tempro and Kevin Patrick. The two were charged with the murder of Yip Manin Luk on November 23, 2002.

The judge was expected to give her decision on Friday. However, additional time was given to the State to verify information relating to Tempro’s family home in Wallerfield Gardens, Arima, and for submissions on Patrick’s alleged infractions while in prison.

The judge is now expected to rule on Tempro’s application on May 4, while a decision on Patrick’s will be given on June 3.

This will be their second trial after the Court of Appeal quashed their 2009 conviction and ordered retrials on the charge that they, during a robbery, shot and killed Luk, an employee of Alan Fong and Stephanie Yee Fong at their residence in Santa Rosa.

Both men, having been on remand for two decades, applied for bail after the decision of the Court of Appeal in February.

At the first bail hearing last week, Tempro’s attorney, Sophia Chote, SC, said it was “unconscionable” and “nothing less than an atrocity” for a man to be imprisoned for 20 years without a resolution to his matter, and for him waiting 12 years for retrial, “pandemic or no pandemic.”

Chote said Tempro had spent half his life on remand and this could possibly be one of the longest periods, if not the longest, any prisoner has spent on remand.

She also referred to medical reports showing Tempro had attempted suicide on two occasions because of his lengthy incarceration.

At that hearing, the State, represented by prosecutor Danielle Thompson, said the State had difficulties at the time in putting forward a position on the application since the police have not been able to make the necessary checks.

On Friday, Thompson said the State was objecting to Tempro’s application because of the environment he will be going to if released. She said the police were still not able to verify the address given by Tempro. His mother, Patricia, and a sister, Kareema, a police officer, provided information, on oath, on the family’s home and how to access it. His mother also gave her consent to the electronic monitoring unit to install equipment at her home if the court makes it a condition of bail.

She lives at the house with her husband and another daughter, a high school teacher. Patrick’s application took a different turn when it was revealed by Thompson he had several alleged infractions in prison, unlike Tempro who had none. She said the State was also categorically objecting to bail for him based on the police’s checks of his family’s home in Wallerfield which was said to be a “volatile” area with suspected gang activity and gun crimes.

At the first bail hearing last week, Patrick’s attorney, Shaun Morris, who appears with Larry Williams, also said their client had spent half his life in prison awaiting trial. Patrick is now 45.

The men’s bail application follows the ruling of the Court of Appeal in the challenge of former murder accused Akili Charles. The court held that Section 5(1) of the Bail Act of 1994, which previously precluded judicial officers from considering bail for those accused of murder, was unconstitutional. This paved the way for anyone charged with murder to apply for bail for the first time in over a century.

The State’s appeal of that decision will be heard in June. On Thursday, the Privy Council refused to grant a stay or suspension of the ruling, leaving the way clear for judicial officers to consider bail applications for anyone charged with murder.

Since the ruling in Akili Charles, there has only been one successful bail application. Joel King was granted $1.5 million bail with heavy conditions by a High Court master. He was also represented by Williams and Morris.