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Trini farm worker on rape charge in Canada

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Trinidadian migrant farm worker is accused of a vicious sexual assault in a woman’s farm home that shocked a tiny rural community in eastern Elgin County, a county of the Canadian province of Ontario, Canada.  How the Ontario Provisional Police (OPP) were able to zone in on Henry Cooper is before the courts, but clues to how the case was cracked were revealed on Monday. DNA proved to be the key to Cooper’s arrest on Saturday, police said at a media conference even though Cooper was not part of the national DNA data bank.


Forensic officers collected samples from the crime scene, said Insp Dwight Peer, the officer in charge of Western Region crime prevention and investigations. “I can’t speak to the exact techniques we use, but we were able to get a DNA sample from the accused and compare that to scene evidence,” he said. Cooper, 35, of St Mary’s Village,  Moruga, Trinidad, was arrested in Bayham Township and faces four charges. He had been working for a local farmer. He was not known to the woman who was assaulted, police said.


Peer said the investigation was intense, involving many facets of policing. “We knew what we were up against in a stranger (assault) situation,” he said. On October 19, a woman was on her porch at her rural home east of Vienna when she was grabbed by a man and forced into her house. She was sexually assaulted. The man left and she called for help. Police said she suffered minor injuries. “It’s my hope that this apprehension will begin the process of healing so necessary in incidents such as this,” Peer said.


The arrest came after some speedy analysis from the Centre of Forensic Sciences, which was aware that the case was an assault by a stranger. Insp Brad Fishleigh, the commander of the St Thomas detachment, said once investigators determined Cooper was their suspect, they moved swiftly because he’s from T&T. “Certainly after we had identified him, that was something that was on our minds,” he said.


Fishleigh said tips were called in by local residents, farmers and businesses “which certainly assisted us in bringing this case to a successful conclusion.” Peer said the entire small community was traumatised by the incident and “there was a huge expectation that the OPP would be able to find out who was responsible for this senseless crime.


“It was a very shocking incident and it had broader implications. This, again, a small rural area. We don’t expect this type of thing and it was quite a shock to that community.” The arrest was welcomed with great relief from both the woman and people living in the area. Cooper has made his first court appearance and has yet to schedule a bail hearing.





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