Colombian woman fails to show in court…Cop freed of sex charges

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo –

A 45-year-old police officer has been acquitted of charges that he raped, sexually assaulted and attempted to bugger a Colombian woman at a hotel in central Trinidad in 2008.

On January 25, Justice Nalini Singh directed a nine-member jury to return not-guilty verdicts in PC Derek Badree’s favour after she upheld a no-case submission advanced by his attorneys.

The collapse of the State’s case against Badree, 45, came after prosecutors were unable to bring the victim to court either in person at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain, or have her testify virtually.

Earlier in the trial, which began on January 16, prosecutors sought the court’s permission to have the woman’s deposition (evidence given at the preliminary inquiry) read out to the jury because she was not in the jurisdiction.

To support its application, they led evidence from three witnesses, including immigration officials.

However, the judge refused the application as the State had said it was in contact with her via WhatsApp calls and since she (the judge) had allowed the evidence of other witnesses to be taken virtually, there was no reason it could not also been done with the alleged victim.

A second application was then made for the victim to testify virtually. This was granted by Singh. However, she included an “unless” order which compelled the State to bring the witness at 11 am on January 25, in the virtual call or prosecutors would be precluded from leading her evidence.

At 11 am on Thursday, the alleged victim was not on the virtual link and her name was called repeatedly in the virtual court but there was “no appearance” by her.

Prosecutors were then forced to close its case against Badree without the alleged victim’s testimony. Badree’s attorneys Chase Pegus and Danyal Mohammed, advanced a no-case submission which was upheld by the judge.

It was the State’s case that Badree, who was then assigned to the Gran Couva police station, and another officer, were at the Santa Maria hotel at Bhagna Trace, Chase Village, in their official police vehicle while on duty between midnight and 3 am on November 14, 2008.

It was alleged that a man approached the Colombian woman and agreed to pay her $240 for sex. The alleged acts of rape, grievous sexual assault and attempted buggery took place in one of the hotel’s rooms.

A report was made to the Chaguanas police station by the woman that morning in which she alleged she was threatened by the man who had a pistol.

Her undergarments were taken to the Forensic Science Centre by then Sgt Eustace Joseph who arrested and charged Badree after he showed up at the Chaguanas police station on November 15, 2008, after hearing he was being sought by his colleagues.

Badree took officers to his home where they retrieved civilian clothing he was allegedly wearing on the morning. These were sent for testing and according to certificates of analysis which were tendered into evidence, tests done on the items of clothing of both the alleged victim and Badree could not identify the presence of sperm or other DNA.

The trial was case-managed between 2021-2023 by Singh, who was then a High Court master, and assurances were given by the State that arrangements would be made for the alleged victim’s return to TT to give evidence.

When the trial began, prosecutors sought to have at least three of its witnesses, not including the victim, testify virtually. This was objected to by the defence who said it had been agreed the trial would proceed in person. Their objections were overturned by the judge. The State was represented by Rebecca Trim-Wright and Kezia Burkette.