Verdict opens fresh wounds for Moruga family

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Geraldine Eccles, 73, wipes away tears during an interview at her Moruga home on Saturday. – AYANNA KINSALE

WHILE Friday’s not guilty verdict has given closure to the families of six police officers who were freed of the Moruga triple murder, it has reopened fresh wounds for the relatives of the three friends who were killed in July 2011.

“I feel like they murdered my son for a second time, all over again,” Geraldine Eccles, 73, mother of one of the victims Kerron “Fingers” Eccles said as she wept on Saturday at her Moruga home.

“I don’t know how I can survive this.

“I know nothing can bring back my son, but if a guilty verdict was returned, I would have had some closure. But I got no justice. I just lost my son again. Everything just coming back, fresh, like it did so many years ago.

“While the police officers are celebrating with their families, I am grieving. The families of the three victims are grieving.

“They will be getting back their jobs, their pay, back pay, increase in salary and they could even sue the State. But what about my son’s children? They need financial help for their upbringing. They do not have a father to support them now.”

She said, “What happened on Friday is man’s justice, but there is a greater being, there is a God in heaven, he is the greater judge and he would dispense his own justice.”

What is more painful she said, is that one of the officers involved in the shooting is a relative.

Geraldine said her son’s death and Friday’s verdict was triple blow to her as she was abroad when her son was killed 12 years ago. She was unable to attend his funeral as she had overstayed her time and could not return at that point.

She said she left Trinidad when Kerron was a teenager and had not seen him for ten years.

“We always talked on the phone. Just before he was killed he was telling me ‘Mammy, mammy come home. I get a job. I will mind you. You don’t have to work again.’”

She explained that her house was destroyed by fire and she was working abroad and had to rebuild. She said had made arrangements to come home for Christmas 2011 and had told her son about her plan.

“But then this come and happen.”

The six officers – Cpl Khemraj Sahadeo, is flanked by his colleagues, from left, PCs Antonio Ramadhin, Saffraz Juman, Roger Nicholas, Sgt Glenn Singh, and PC Renaldo Reviero, Hall of Justice, Port of Spain, after they were freed of the murder of three Moruga friends in 2011. – ROGER JACOB

Kerron, then 29, a father of two, and the ninth of ten children, was one of three friends killed, when police opened fire on the vehicle in which he was an occupant along with the driver Allana Duncan, 27, and Abigail Johnson, 20.

The incident took place at Guness Trace and Rochard Douglas Road, Barrackpore.

Seven police officers were subsequently charged with murder – Sgt Khemraj Sahadeo and PCs Renaldo Reviero, Glenn Singh, Roger Nicholas, Safraz Juman and Antonio Ramadhin and WPC Nicole Clement.

Clement later turned state witness and testified at the magistrate court that Johnson was the only one killed at the scene. She testified that the Duncan and Kerron were taken to another location where they were shot dead.

At the trial before Justice Carla Brown-Antoine, at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain, Clement refused to testify and was deemed a hostile witness by the prosecution. Her testimony before the magistrates court was read to the jury. She had walked out of the witness protection programme claiming the conditions were inhumane.

After spending 12 years in jail the six cops, who claimed they acted in self-defence, were freed on Friday.

Standing in the gallery of her family Moruga home, an emotional Geraldine said she believed the testimony of Clement.

“You can’t make up a story like that you know.

“This is not right. This is unjust. Something more in the mortar than the pestle.

Hungry for closure and after having missed his funeral, Geraldine said she attended every court hearing.

“I was at the court from the beginning of the trial until that verdict. Everything was going good, good, in our favour. We had hope that we would get justice.

“But all of a sudden the tables turn. Every one of them received a not guilty?” she questioned.

“So how those children got killed?”

She recalled the moment in the court when the name of the first police officer was called and the jury returned a not guilty verdict on the three-count indictment.

“When that happened one of my grandsons just got up and walked out of the courtroom.

“When the second name of the police officer was called and they said not guilty, two members of the other families got up and moved.

“When I heard the third not guilty, I got up and moved. I went downstairs. I was approached by photographer, I told him this is not right. God not sleeping.”

Newsday also visited the family homes of Johnson and Duncan.

At the Duncan’s La Romaine home, the house and gates were locked and the mail box was overflowing with mail.

At the Moruga home of Johnson, a young girl told the Newsday she was at home alone. She gave a number of an adult relative but calls to the number were not answered.

For days after the triple killing in 2011, residents staged fiery protests in Moruga demanding the police officers be charged. Then commissioner of police Dwayne Gibbs tried to reassure the residents that a fair investigation would be done.

On Saturday, there was calm but residents said they were disappointed with the outcome. They said the verdict was a sad indictment on the criminal justice system.