State’s case closed in Seetahal inquiry

Monday, December 2, 2019 - 18:45

The Of­fice of the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions (DPP) has closed the State’s case in the pre­lim­i­nary in­quiry of ten men charged with the mur­der of for­mer In­de­pen­dent Sen­a­tor Dana See­ta­hal, SC.

The DPP’s Of­fice closed its case be­fore Se­nior Mag­is­trate In­drani Ce­de­no af­ter the last of its over 90 wit­ness­es com­plet­ed their tes­ti­monies and cross-ex­am­i­na­tions at the Port-of-Spain Mag­is­trates’ Court, last Fri­day. 

Ce­de­no will now have to con­sid­er a se­ries of no case ap­pli­ca­tions from the ac­cused men, which will chal­lenge whether there is suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence against them. 

Ce­de­no may choose to dis­miss the charge against some or all of the men. How­ev­er, if ap­pli­ca­tions are re­fused, Ce­de­no will then call on the ac­cused men to present their de­fence wit­ness­es. 

Af­ter the process is com­plet­ed, Ce­de­no will de­cide whether there is suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence for the case to go to tri­al. 

Once the pre­lim­i­nary in­quiry is com­mit­ted and the men are com­mit­ted to stand tri­al, the DPP’s Of­fice will then have to file the in­dict­ment for the case to be list­ed on the High Court’s back­logged tri­al list. 

See­ta­hal was shot dead while dri­ving along Hamil­ton Hold­er Street in Wood­brook on May 4, 2014. 

In Sep­tem­ber 2015, Ra­jaee Ali, his broth­ers Ish­mael and Hamid, De­vaughn Cum­mings, Ri­car­do Stew­art, Earl Richards, Kevin Parkin­son, Le­ston Gon­za­les, Ro­get Bouch­er, Gareth Wise­man, and Stephan Cum­mings were charged with the mur­der. 

David Ec­tor, De­on Pe­ters and Ali’s wife Sta­cy Grif­fith, were charged with be­ing mem­bers of a gang but not the mur­der. 

Ec­tor, Pe­ters, Grif­fith, and the men charged with the mur­der were freed of the gang charge at a pre­lim­i­nary stage due to blun­der by the DPP’s Of­fice. 

The charges were laid in­dictably (heard and de­ter­mined by a High Court Judge and ju­ry af­ter a pre­lim­i­nary in­quiry) as op­posed to sum­mar­i­ly (heard and de­ter­mined by a mag­is­trate) due to a blun­der by the DPP’s Of­fice. 

Gang charges are heard sum­mar­i­ly for first-time of­fend­ers and in­dictably for re­peat of­fend­ers. 

The DPP’s Of­fice has since ap­pealed Ce­de­no’s de­ci­sion with the Court of Ap­peal ex­pect­ed to de­liv­er its judge­ment in the case, ear­ly next year. 

Al­though Ec­tor and Pe­ters were ini­tial­ly set free, Grif­fith re­mained a part of the case as she is fac­ing an ad­di­tion­al charge for ben­e­fit­ing from the gang’s ac­tiv­i­ty, which was cor­rect­ly laid by the DPP’s Of­fice. 

In De­cem­ber 2017, the DPP’s Of­fice dis­con­tin­ued the mur­der charge against Cum­mings, made him a State wit­ness and laid one against him for con­spir­ing to mur­der See­ta­hal. 

In May, last year, Ec­tor was ar­rest­ed af­ter scal­ing the perime­ter fence at the Pi­ar­co In­ter­na­tion­al Air­port.

Ec­tor al­leged­ly claimed that he was at­tempt­ing to evade a group of men who were at­tempt­ing to kill him. 

Two months lat­er, Ec­tor was mur­dered at his Cara­po home. 

The in­quiry is sched­uled to come up for hear­ing on Jan­u­ary 3.