Last update: 11-Dec-2013 8:26 pm
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Agard to hang for Cascade murders
“Thank God.” These were the only words that relatives and friends of murdered agricultural consultant John Cropper said yesterday after 29-year-old Daniel Agard was sentenced to death. It took a 12-member jury in the Port-of-Spain First Criminal Court a little over three hours to return with the guilty verdicts against Agard, of Upper Bushe Street, Maitagual, San Juan. Agard’s conviction came almost 12 years after Cropper and his mother-in-law and sister-in-law were murdered during a robbery at his Cascade home.
Following the verdicts, Justice Prakash Moosai read the three death sentences to a cold-faced Agard, who stood silently with his head lowered. Cropper’s friends and relatives, who attended hearings of the trial, were present yesterday and were brought to tears when the foreman of the jury began announcing the verdicts. This trial was Agard’s second. In July 2004, Agard and another man, Lester Pittman, were both convicted of the triple murder.
The Court of Appeal eventually quashed Agard’s conviction and ordered a retrial. Pittman’s conviction was upheld by the Appeal Court. Pittman then appealed to the Privy Council, with the British law lords remitting the case to the Appeal Court for them to consider whether his conviction was safe considering new evidence of his mental state. The appeal court is yet to rule on the Privy Council’s direction.
Cropper, his mother-in-law Maggie Lee, 68, and sister-in-law Lynette Lithgow-Pearson, 57, were killed at Cropper’s Mt Anne Drive, Second Avenue, Cascade, home between December 11 and 12, 2001. Their bodies were found by police on December 13, 2001. They were bound and gagged with electrical wire and their throats had been slit. Lithgow-Pearson was a former television broadcaster with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
Cropper’s wife Angela, a former Independent senator and deputy director of the United Nations Environmental Programme was not at home at the time of the murders. She died in London, England, in November last year after a protracted illness. During the six-month retrial, the court was shown a graphic video recording of the crime scene which seemed to have an emotional effect on both jurors and court staff. A confession statement, which Agard gave police after his arrest, was also admitted into evidence in the case.
Agard was represented by Wayne Sturge while State attorney Marissa Joseph prosecuted.
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