JEFFREY’S FINAL GIFT – Widow expecting baby for guard killed in Pennywise heist

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

FILE PHOTO: Amanda Beharrysingh, centre, wife of slain security guard Jeffrey Peters, with his son, Jeffrey, left, and the couples daughter, Jenique at Peters’s funeral last September. The couple had another two-year-old daughter and Beharrysing is now pregnant with Peters’s child. – SUREASH CHOLAI

THE widow of one of the two security guards shot dead during September’s deadly heist outside Pennywise Super Centre in La Romaine is pregnant with his child.

But Amanda La Vende’s common-law husband Jeffrey Peters, 51, who was sent to an early grave by the bandits’ bullets, breathed his last, unaware of the imminent addition to his family.

As a consequence, the child will enter this world with no father and will never feel Jeffrey’s touch or hear his voice.

Newsday spoke to La Vende of Morvant on Wednesday afternoon, who said she was unaware she was carrying a child at the time of his death.

“I did not have any symptoms. I had no clue. Our last child turned two in December, and I was still breastfeeding. I found out sometime after the funeral. My due date is at the end of May or early June,” she said.

The unborn will be the couple’s third child together and Peters’ fourth, as he had another child from a previous relationship.

The unborn baby will be her fifth child.

La Vende said from time to time, their three-year-old daughter would randomly say “Daddy, Daddy” or “Where Daddy?”

“I do not know if she is actually asking for him because she would say it and walk off. The older one is aware of his death,” La Vende said.

“Initially, she often spoke about him, but I always used to cry. She stopped talking about him with me, but I told her not to. I feel she stopped because of me crying.”

January would have marked eight years since they became a couple.

Asked how she is coping financially, considering Peters was the breadwinner, La Vende replied: “I am getting by. I am not complaining.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Estate Police Association (EPA) president Deryck Richardson revealed the pregnancy at a seminar, adding that the widow had given him permission to say it publicly.

“Jeffrey Peters’ wife is pregnant with a child he did not know he had fathered. At the time of his death, she was pregnant. Let that sink in,” Richardson said.

Richardson said the association was still “lending support” to Peters’ widow, and she and her attorney had recently visited the EPA’s office “to get some things done.” He did not refer to her by name.

MURDERED: Security guard Jeffrey Peters. –

Peters and his co-worker Jerry Stuart, both of Allied Security Ltd, were ambushed and killed while transporting money in La Romaine on September 19.

Another colleague, Peola Baptiste, was shot and wounded. Richardson referred to the lone female survivor as a “strong woman” who remains scarred by the traumatic experience.

EPA head: Security industry facing challenges

The EPA partnered with the Ministry of Labour to host the seminar for branch officers of various security companies. The seminar was held at the Creative Arts Centre at Circular Road in San Fernando.

Richardson said, “It makes no sense for any organisation to have people and not train and provide them with the relevant information to do their job.”

He said the industry has been facing many challenges, such as infringing the terms and conditions of collective agreements.

Richardson encouraged members to work together to let their voices be heard. He added that some people are afraid to do so, fearful of victimisation.

He recalled that after the September robbery, the association called on security officers who had expired bulletproof vests to raise the issues with their management or forward them to the EPA.

Richardson said, at one company in south Trinidad, workers had refused to wear the defective vests. Some had expired as long ago as 2005.

After the association intervened, he said, the company bought new ones by the next evening.

He told participants their health was their wealth, emphasising the importance of health and safety in doing their jobs.

Members raised concerns about non-members often asking for advice and help but being unwilling to join and pay membership fees.

One participant said his colleagues knew what they needed to do but prefered to spend $50 at a bar rather than pay the association’s monthly fee.

The participant said the association tended to bend over backwards to help those non-members.

He charged that some officers were taking the association for a joke. But as soon as they were faced with problem, they ran to it.

“We should stop being so lenient on these non-members,” he said.

In response, Richardson asked participants to encourage non-members to join the EPA.

“Do not wait on them to ask you to join. You need to approach them and tell them the value of being a member. Many people would not want to pay the fee, and they might have all manners of things to say about the association.”

Richardson said, sometimes, some people got advice from “bush lawyers,” but the participants must be empowered to properly analyse the information.

Chief labour relations officer at the ministry’s Conciliation, Advisory and Advocacy Division (CAAD) Sabrina Gomez, also spoke at the interactive seminar.

She said workers could report trade disputes under different laws such as the Retrenchment and Severance Benefits Act, Maternity Protection Act, and the Minimum Wages Act.

She also gave a summary of CAAD’s role, saying it promotes advisory and conciliation services.

“We draft policies, anything that pertains to the employer/employee relationship. We also provide mediation services. The Minister of Labour is the chief conciliator,” she told the participants.

She added that an employer or the recognised majority trade union or association could report a trade dispute to the minister.