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Ex-Security Minister ‘hogtied’ and robbed
Former PNM national security minister Martin Joseph was “hogtied” and robbed by a gun-toting assailant at his Flagstaff Hill, Long Circular, home around 11.30 pm on Sunday, Joseph said yesterday. He old the T&T Guardian he was not hurt despite being tied up. “Nothing happened to me, I’m all right,” Joseph added. The Flagstaff Hill development is a security-guarded, gated community which includes residences used by government ministers under past administrations. Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs also is reported to live at Government quarters there since the official residence of the Police Commissioner at St James was under renovation, police officials said yesterday. Joseph said he was at home at around 11.30 pm last Sunday when his stepson entered the house. He said: “ I noticed a masked man, armed with a gun, had followed him into the house. “Upon entering the house the man announced it was a robbery and proceeded to ‘hogtie’ my stepson,” Joseph said there was a short “confrontation” between the gunman and himself when he tried to wrestle the weapon away from the man.
Joseph, 62, said: “But I too was ‘hogtied’, as the bandit proceeded to rob me and others in the house. “The robber then made his way upstairs to the bedrooms and it was during that time I was able to untie myself, escape and call for help. “ Joseph said the St James Police were called and they arrived shortly after. “However, by the time they got to my home the bandit had made off with my stepson’s car which was later recovered by the police in St James,” he said. The red Lancer sports car was found abandoned but not damaged. Thanking police for their quick response, Joseph added: “I hope the perpetrator will be brought to justice as soon as possible. “It again shows the need for the entire country to work at all levels in the fight against crime to recognise that the war against the criminals will not be easily won but is one requiring hard work, dedicated action from law enforcement and parents taking responsibility in the way they raise their children.” Police were expected to view footage from CCTV cameras around the residence. Joseph has lived at Flagstaff for eight years. As the former PNM administration’s National Security Minister since 2003, Joseph grappled with spiralling crime—particularly kidnapping and murder rates—until a drop in the kidnapping rate in 2007- 2008.
Among anti-crime initiatives, Joseph had explored the idea of a gun court and gun amnesty, which National Security Minister Jack Warner recently said would be explored in the PP’s crime plan. Warner’s adviser, Francis Joseph, was unaware of the robbery yesterday morning. He said he would ask Warner about it. Warner’s secretary, who later answered his cellphone, was unaware who the previous National Security Minister—before John Sandy—was. Warner didn’t reply to calls. His secretary said at 3 pm he was in and out of meetings. Warner attended yesterday’s 50th anniversary parade of the T&T Regiment at Teteron Barracks, Chaguaramas. Last week, he criticised PNM MPs for their remarks on his recent statements on the crime level.
However, yesterday PNM’s Colm Imbert said: “I’m now horrified to hear of the home invasion of former minister Joseph because Flagstaff Hill is a gated community, patrolled by security 24 hours and has traditionally been the place where government ministers and foreign dignitaries are housed pending relocation to a more permanent place.” “I was told the new Police Commissioner was housed at Flagstaff also when he first arrived in T&T, so the idea that such a seemingly secure compound, with so many government people living on it, could be subject to this kind of home invasion is horrifying and makes a mockery of everything Warner has been saying. “In my 21 years of public life I have never heard of a home invasion at Flagstaff . It means the criminals aren’t afraid of Warner,” he added. Police communications officer, Sharon Lee Assang, was surprised when told yesterday of the Joseph incident. Up to yesterday evening police headquarters officials could not say which police station was investigating it. Joseph was in a meeting with PNM chairman Franklin Khan at Balisier House, Port-of-Spain, up to late yesterday.
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