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Guardian Media employee slain near home
Guardian Media Ltd was plunged into mourning yesterday after a 50-year-old employee was shot dead outside his Mentor Alley home in Laventille. Junior Valentine was a senior supervisor at the Guardian’s production department and the Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union’s former branch vice-president at the company.
A father of four and grandfather of eight, he was killed by gunmen two feet from the front of his home. A candlelight vigil was held outside the T&T Guardian’s office on St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday evening in his memory. When a Guardian team visited the crime scene, Valentine’s body lay on the ground outside his house. His cellphone, which was still on him, could still be heard as it rang several times.
Valentine’s 76-year-old mother Marjorie Carrington was distraught and had to be comforted by relatives. In an interview, Carrington said: “I have three children. They take one. He was a lovely boy, he was a loving child. He was a nice child.” Carrington said it was her birthday last week and Valentine had brought her pizza and other things to eat.
“For Christmas he give me $1,500. When Curtis (Valentine’s brother) work, he would take care of me, and when he (Valentine) work, Curtis would take care of me. They don’t leave me alone. “I sent him food and juice this morning. It was ochro and rice, his favourite,” she said. Carrington said Valentine did not want to go to work yesterday.
“He wanted to rest his body, so I told him don’t force yourself,” she said. Carrington said Valentine did not have any enemies. “His mouth was hot but he would not tell anybody anything. He ent easy,” she laughed. Curtis Valentine, the victim’s brother, said he took him the pelau to eat early. Jameel Archer, meanwhile, said Valentine raised him from childhood and was like a father to him.
“I never know my father. He raised me as a son from small. He is the only man I know,” he said. Michelle King said she and Valentine had two children, Afiesha and Sapphire, and had been in a relationship for 25 years before they separated. A neighbour said Valentine texted her at 6.30 am yesterday and wished her happy birthday. “He text me early and gave me greetings and said God bless me,” she said.
ASP Forde, Insp Maharaj and Cpl Charles Budri visited the scene. Cpl Harvey and PC Smith of the Region One Homicide Bureau are probing his killing, which took the murder toll for the year to seven.
A loss to T&T Guardian
Guardian Media Ltd managing director Gabriel Faria yesterday extended sympathy to Valentine’s family on behalf of the company. He said Valentine’s death would be a huge loss to the Guardian family, praising him for his loyalty and commitment.
Valentine interacted with Faria and other managers not only as an employee, but also as a representative of the Banking, Insurance and General Workers’ Union.
Valentine stood out, Faria said, for his ability to see both sides. While he always spoke his mind, Valentine remained cordial and approachable even while he and the company’s management were apparently at odds on sensitive issues or during difficult negotiations. Faria said Guardian Media Ltd had offered to help Valentine’s family with funeral expenses and arranged grief counselling for staff distressed by the news of his death.
David Inglefield, ANSA McAL media sector head, said Valentine was irreplaceable. Describing him as a lovely person and a great human being, Inglefield said Valentine was the kind of employee every company wanted. “He wasn’t just a good and faithful employee,” Inglefield explained.
“He was an exemplar. As a shop steward, he understood his new role in a union engagement in the modern era, and how to craft a relationship with management. That’s a rare thing.” Production supervisor and former BIGWU branch president Gary Stubbs said they had been friends for 32 years.
“That was my friend and my brother. I met him when he started in 1977 and I came to work in 1980. We were very close. He was a serious-minded person, a lover of life. One of his passions was to ensure everybody got their just due. We would go fighting for the workers’ rights,” he said.
General manager of the GML’s Print Division Douglas Wilson said Valentine transitioned through the old methods of paste-up and working the process camera to today’s computer methods and was very aware of the impact of the digital age on the production process. He said Valentine touched staff throughout every department of the organisation.
“Either because of his union role as a shop steward, or just because he was Junior. He was a livewire, in that he organised many events in close conjunction with the sports club—be it football, cricket, Sports Day, calypso competition,” he said. Wilson said Valentine also enjoyed giving fatigue and chat. Wilson said Valentine’s death had left all his co-workers in a stupor.
“We will send him off as best as we can. The Guardian has lost a stalwart,” he said. BIGWU deputy president Mario Als said Valentine was committed to his union duties and building team spirit. “I have always found him to be a committed representative or ambassador of the union at the Guardian Media Ltd branch where he worked,” he said.
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