Gasparillo man freed of robbery, kidnapping charges

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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A GASPARILLO man has been acquitted of a three-count indictment involving the alleged robbery and kidnapping of a police officer in 2005.

Ricky Dhanrada, also called Ricky Dandrade, was found not guilty of robbery with aggravation, kidnapping and false imprisonment by Justice Gillian Scotland at his recently concluded judge-only trial.

It was alleged that Dhanrada was part of a gang of thieves and posed as a taxi driver on the night Toolah Julien was robbed of his cell phone, bank cards, cash, police ID, driver’s permit and national ID before he was released.

In his testimony, Julien said he entered a gold-coloured car on the Southern Main Road in Couva with another man who was also waiting on transport. There were two other passengers in the car. A short while later, the front-seat passenger announced a hold-up while the back-seat passenger said, “Don’t move.”

Julien was given a bandanna to cover his face and his belongings were taken from him. He told the men they had a gun so they were in control and could take what they wanted and let him go. They refused.

The driver was told to make a block and a few minutes later, he and the other passenger were allowed to leave. Julien then took off the bandanna and went to a nearby house to call the police.

In giving her reasons for her verdict, Scotland said there was no evidence Dhanrada was connected to the other men who were in the car that was held up on the night of December 20, 2005, in Couva.

The judge also said the identification evidence was called into question since there was no official record of a first description given of the taxi driver.

She said as the evidence unfolded, Julien added to the description he gave of Dhanrada. She also said there were contradictions in the evidence of the two police officers who testified at the trial and she took issue with a conversation between Julien and the officer who conducted an identification parade where Dhanrada was pointed out.

She said she had “judicial misgivings” about this conversation which, she said, caused her to question the integrity of the process.

She also said it was improper for the accused to be detained at the San Fernando CID office as Julien worked at the fingerprint department located in the same building, saying it created an opportunity for Julien to see Dhanrada before the identification parade.

“On the entirety of the evidence, the court had doubts” Dhanrada was the driver of the vehicle when Julien was robbed at gunpoint.

“The court also had doubts as to the fairness of the identification parade. In the circumstances, the court concludes that the prosecution was unable to discharge its legal duty of proving its case to the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” the judge said before finding Dhanrada not guilty on all three counts.

Dhanrada was represented by Roshan Tota-Maharaj while Stacy Laloo-Chong and Rebecca Trim-Wright represented the State at the trial.