DPP advises release of Valsayn couple

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Police leave a home in Butu Road, Valsayn, last Wednesday, after searching for evidence in relation to the
death of Hannah Mathura whose bones were believed to have been found buried on the property the day

Two suspects detained a week ago in the Valsayn case where the bones of a teenager were dug up from her backyard are to be released from police custody.

Police received advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions, Roger Gaspard, SC, on Tuesday, to set free the man and the woman pending further investigations.

Investigators consulted Gaspard based on evidence and information they had collated since the bones of Hannah Mathura were found last Wednesday at her family’s Butu Road, Valsayn, home.

Police are yet to lay charges against the suspects held in relation to the murder of 18-year-old Hannah Mathura. Hannah was shot in the head in 2017 and buried in a shallow grave in the backyard of her family’s home.

Gaspard told Newsday earlier on Tuesday police had not yet brought any information before him to make a determination on charges against the suspects, who had been in custody since last Wednesday.

“Police have not come back to me to make any charging decision as yet.” He added, “We spoke and they had certain things to do to further the inquiry and they were to get back to me, and they haven’t done so yet.”

Police found Mathura’s body after a male relative led them to her grave. Newsday understands an autopsy revealed she was shot in the head.

Her father fled the home hours before police arrived to exhume her remains but was found two nights later at an apartment in El Dorado. Her mother was arrested almost simultaneously at the family’s home in Valsayn.

Since the couple’s arrest, their other children have hired a lawyer and are said to be co-operating with the police and assisting them in their investigations.

Attorneys Sajiv Boodhu and Sascha Kolasingh told the media last Friday the children’s main goal at the time was to assist the police. Boodhu said they were focused on a swift investigation and a just outcome.

“The children are interested in a fair investigation and a just outcome, and they remain committed to supporting the police in every way that they can.”

Head of the North Central Division, Snr Supt Richard Smith, told Newsday last week Hannah’s siblings were being treated as victims.

“Their sister was buried in the backyard for seven years. It was a serious, gruesome secret…for a child to keep that for so many years. It must affect them, and it will affect them, psychologically and otherwise, for many years.” Neighbors also alleged the Mathura children were abused verbally and physically.

Despite the siblings’ assistance, the police are yet to charge anyone in relation to the case. On Tuesday, homicide head Rishi Singh told Newsday the inquiry into Hannah’s death was still ongoing. “We have outstanding work to do. The public will be informed, as they are required to be, in due course.”

Asked if the suspects’ lawyers had communicated any intention to file a writ of habeas corpus seeking to be freed after being detained for almost a week, Singh said he was unaware of any such document being filed.

“We are not in receipt of that intention through any communication in that regard,” he said Singh was unable to give a definitive date the public could expect charges to be laid. Addressing concerns over the length of time it was taking, he said police must ensure the integrity of the investigative process.

“We don’t have an ability to presuppose what we’re going to find. So sometimes when we are surprised by findings, we have to take reasonable steps to reasonably inquire further. So these things are time-consuming.”

He added no two investigations were the same. “The investigative process is not a process that is cast in stone, and it’s as dynamic as the actions that led to whatever incident at all.”

Singh said there were also “constitutional safeguards” the police must consider as they investigated.

“Even though the public may feel a certain sensitivity about how long something is taken, the reality is that persons have the right to private and family life, freedom of choice, they have (the right to the) presumption of innocence… “And so we have a responsibility to honor those things, as well as a duty to ensure that we honor all matters of the investigative process within the realm of the law, including the detention of the person.”

Singh said he was unsure when Hannah’s siblings would be given the opportunity to give her a proper burial, as the remains formed a vital part of the investigation.

“When the investigation is a little bit more advanced and we have reached certain types of certainty, it is only then those decisions will be made.

They are in contemplation, but certainly those decisions have not been made, because there are a number of outstanding areas.” He said DNA test results were also still outstanding and added, “All of those things would factor into the decision-making process.”