Scrap iron dealer acquitted of ammunition and marijuana possession charges

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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A TUNAPUNA scrap iron dealer who went on trial earlier this month on charges of possession of a large quantity of ammunition and marijuana for trafficking has been acquitted by a Port of Spain jury in a majority verdict.

On Wednesday, seven of a nine-member jury found Samuel Ramesar not guilty on both counts. The majority verdict was accepted and Ramesar was ordered to be freed by Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds who presided over his trial.

It was alleged by the State that on November 23, 2007, Ramesar’s home at Centenary Street was searched by police who found a little over 600 rounds of ammunition in a tote bag and marijuana in a plastic bag.

The police officer who charged him, PC Dillon Harper of the Mayaro police station, was part of the party of officers who went with a warrant to Ramesar’s home for property stolen in Mayaro, testified at the short trial.

Ramesar denied stealing anything from Mayaro and alleged the items found belonged to a man he rented a room to who admitted the items were stolen. Ramesar also denied knowing about the marijuana, insisting all he had was a “little smoke” found in his pocket and not the quantity allegedly found by the police.

In his testimony, which he gave virtually from the Frederick Street Prison in Port of Spain, Ramesar said on the day police came to his home, he was inside with his children and common-law wife playing video games.

He said the officers barged into the house and searched him. He said he had a small packet of marijuana in his pocket.

“What we does call a smoke.”

He said a few minutes later he heard an officer from the back of the house say, “I found it.”

When they got to the room in the back which he rented out, Ramesar said there was a plastic bag on the ground and the ammunition was emptied on it. He said he told the officers from both the Mayaro and Tunapuna police station, who were part of the operation, he knew nothing about the “old police ammunition” and all he had was the “smoke” in his hand.

Ramesar said the police asked him for receipts for the items in his home, which he provided, and they took appliances and other items, including a nebuliser, jewellery, DVDs and the Nintendo video game console.

Ramesar alleged he was set up by the police for filing a lawsuit against some of their colleagues when police raided his home years before and his then-wife was allegedly stabbed and she lost her baby. The man who was renting by him, he said, was a witness in his civil claim against the police.

Ramesar claimed on the way to the Mayaro police station, the officers pulled off the road and told him and his then seven-month pregnant common-law wife and the girlfriend of his tenant to get out of the vehicle.

He said a senior officer – whom he identified by name – pulled out his firearm and told him, “if it wasn’t for these two girls he would have shot me.

“I asked for what reason, and he say you like to give police case.” He also said the officer told him, “Didn’t you know … is my batch?” They were then taken to the Mayaro police station where Harper interviewed him two days later. He also said at the station, people came to identify their stolen items but no one identified his property as theirs.

He also said he told Harper, who asked him what he did to the senior cop, “I tell him I didn’t do that officer nothing. Why does he have a grudge against me?” He went on to speak of his earlier experience with the police involving his then-wife.

Ramesar also said he was told by the police the ammunition found was “police ammunition,” and the interview notes presented to the court were signed under duress and not all of it was correct. Ramesar said he was told by the police not to call any of their colleagues’ names when he alleged it was the officer who “organised the ammunition by his home.”

At the trial, the quantity of marijuana allegedly found at Ramesar’s house could not be produced as evidence as it could not be located at the Mayaro police station. Instead, the certificate of analysis prepared by the Forensic Science Centre was tendered into evidence.

Ramesar was represented by attorney Fulton Wilson while assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Danielle Thompson prosecuted.