Last update: 06-Dec-2013 1:00 am
Friday, December 06, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Public confidence eroded says police association
The collapse of the State’s case against a police officer charged with murder affects public confidence in the police service, according to general secretary of the Police Social and Welfare Association. Insp Michael Seales was commenting on the case of detective Darwin Ghouralal which ended earlier this week after a magistrate ruled there was insufficient evidence to cause him to stand trial for the 2011 murder of eight-year-old Daniel Guerra.
Seales said: “The association, having taken into account that the matter itself fell through as a consequence of the evidence gathered, would want the police officers and the DPP’s office to take a hard look at itself and do some introspection. “The association’s view is that when matters of such a nature collapse, it does not augur well for the police service in restoring its image or the public’s confidence. “The issue is that when the opportunity presents itself to the police service, it is a one shot and done.”
On Wednesday, Ghouralal, who has 15 years’ service, was released after two-and-a-half years at the Golden Grove Prison in Arouca. However, after Senior Magistrate Rajendra Rambachan dismissed the charge on the basis that a prima-facie case had not been made, the State led by Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Joan Honore-Paul announced that the prosecution would be seeking a judge’s warrant, to review the magistrate’s decision.
This meant that although the charge was dropped, a High Court judge could indict Ghouralal again on the murder charge, if there is sufficient evidence to support the charge. Seales said there should be no room for error when indicting a person for murder because of the lengthy period he or she would spend in prison before the matter is heard.
“There is no room for a margin of error, taking into account that people who are placed before the court and have to wait a protracted time for the matter to be heard and then you have a result such as this. The association’s view is that type of circumstance should be severely criticised. “The association condemns those matters that are akin to an abuse of process because more often than not that person would have spent time in prison, would have lost part of his life and no matter whether they win or not, they incur a severe loss.
“Justice is not just one side, not just the victim. We also have to look at the accused and in this circumstance, the police officer would have also become a victim because of the lengthy period it took for his trial. “His family would have been severely traumatised and would have lost a considerable amount of income and no amount of compensation could assist in them getting back on their feet. That is why the police service has a responsibility, on its first attempt, to get it right.”
Seales also expressed condolences to Guerra’s family, who he said would have to relive the trauma after the case against Ghouralal collapsed. “The association expresses its condolences to the family, having regard that they would have suffered the experience twice, once when the child would have died and now on this occasion when the matter has collapsed in court.”
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