Tableland caretaker pleads guilty to killing boss

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A caretaker who was allowed to plead guilty to the unlawful killing (manslaughter) of his employer in 2010 because he was provoked has one month and 27 days left to serve of the 22-year prison sentence imposed on him last week.

Goolab Ramkissoon, 75, of Tableland, was before Justice Norton Jack in the San Fernando High Court, He was charged with the murder of his employer Rabindranath Harnarine, of Lamont Street, Palmiste, San Fernando, on May 25, 2010.

In sentencing him, Jack advised Ramkissoon to use the time he had left to serve to get counselling because he also shot himself after he shot his boss.

As he imposed a 22-year sentence, Jack took into account Ramkissoon’s good prison record, age and health into consideration before applying a downward adjustment of three and a half years.

Ramkissoon suffers from diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, ulcers and renal failure, a report from the prison’s medical team said.

Jack also applied a one-third discount for the guilty plea and credited the 12 years, two months and three days he has spent in prison, This left him to serve one month and 27 days. Ramkissoon was represented by attorneys Michelle Ali and Collin Elbourne. Prosecutor Norma Peters appeared for the State.

According to the facts agreed on by the State and defence, in 2007, Harnarine bought ten acres of land in Tableland and arranged for Ramkissoon to be the caretaker. Ramkissoon and his wife were allowed to live on the land in lieu of a salary and he was also allowed to plant his own crops.

In 2008, Harnarine built a house on the land and Ramkissoon and his wife were allowed to furnish and occupy it.

The next year, Ramkissoon stopped helping Harnarine on the land, complaining of backaches and not feeling well although he continued to care for his own crops and engage in activities of his own.

Harnarine spoke to the caretaker on several occasions about not helping him, and in November that year, he told Ramkissoon he and his wife would have to leave, as he was not honouring their agreement. Sometime in April-May 2010, Harnarine again spoke to Ramkisson about leaving so he could get someone else in the house who would help him.

Ramkissoon demanded $10,000 to leave and Harnarine refused, instead offering $2,000 to cover any expenses he had incurred in building the house. Ramkissoon agreed and accepted the $2,000.

On May 25, 2010, Harnarine went to remove equipment from under the house because it was raining heavily and it usually flooded when the nearby river broke its banks and met Ramkissoon on the property.

Minutes to four in the afternoon, a neighbour heard three loud explosions from the back of her house and heard Ramkissoon’s voice. The State said he said, “Haul yuh mother c—”

Ten minutes later, the neighbour saw a police jeep arriving. Another neighbour, Pooran Sirju, was woken by a phone call from Harnarine, who him, “Uncle Sonah, Gool shoot me.”

Sirju did not hear him say anything else. He immediately got out of bed and called the police.

PC Rajesh Nandoo, who was on duty at the Tableland police station, received Sirju’s report and he and two other officers went to the crime scene.

They found Ramkissoon lying in a hammock under a small wooden house wearing only a pair of short pants. There were bloodstains on his chest and abdomen and blood was flowing from a wound to his chin.

When they approached, he looked at them and pointed to a bushy area, shouting, “Officer, I shoot a man. He in the back dey. The gun had three shots. I hit him two and I take one.”

The officers wrote down what he said, after cautioning him, and he told them his name was Goolab Ramkissoon.

One of the officers found a shotgun under the steps of the house.

They found Harnarine lying face down on the ground covered with blood and with a wound to his left hand and upper body.

He told them, “Goolab shoot me. He living in my house and he giving plenty trouble. I ask him to leave by tomorrow. Goolab shoot me.”

They tried to get him to sign a note they took of what he had said, but Harnarine could not because of his injuries. With help from neighbours, the police were able to get Harnarine to their vehicle, and while on the way to the Princes Town health facility, they met the ambulance. Harnarine was taken to the facility, then transferred to the San Fernando General Hospital, but died on May 29, 2019, four days after he was shot.

On June 2, 2010, the police interviewed Ramkissoon, who admitted to shooting Harnarine. He said when he accepted the $2,000 and was signing the agreement to leave the property, Harnarine threatened he could go to Canada or America and get someone to finish him off.

He told the police he took the money and thought the only thing he could buy with it was a gun to shoot his boss and then himself because he had nowhere to go and nothing left in life.

Ramkissoon went to the village, telling everyone he would shoot Harnarine. He told police a rastaman came to his house and offered him a gun for $1,500 and he bought it. He hid the gun and ammunition in the bush and visited his children before returning to the house, where he met Harnarine.

The police statement said Harnarine told him, “You eh leave the place yet?” and the two exchanged words while Ramkissoon sat in the hammock rocking.

Harnarine took up a wacker and cutlass from under the house and began knocking on a table. Meanwhile, Ramkissoon got out of the hammock to get the gun, and then pointed it at Harnarine, who begged him not to shoot him.

Ramkissoon told him he was not going to shoot him, but wanted Harnarine to confess to everything he had done to cause him to lose everything in life.

The statement said Harnarine did not apologise and Ramkisson kept pointing the gun at him before Harnarine rushed at him and Ramkissoon fired a shot. As Harnarine fell to the ground, Ramkissoon loaded the gun with another cartridge. Harnarine ran but was caught and Ramkissoon shot him again.

Ramkissoon then put the gun to his own throat and pulled the trigger, but the gun shifted and he was shot in the chin.

He told police he called someone and told them to make a report to the police while he went back to the hammock until the police came.

The State said the interview notes were authenticated by a justice of the peace. These, photographs of the crime scene, the utterance made by Ramkisson and the post-mortem report were among the exhibits tendered into evidence.

The post mortem by Dr Valery Alexandrov said Harnarine’s death was caused by a single fatal gunshot to the neck.