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Case against cop in Sea Lots tragedy starts

Friday, April 11, 2014

A little over a year after a Sea Lots mother and her two young daughters were killed while attempting to cross the Beetham Highway, state prosecutors yesterday began the preliminary inquiry against the police officer charged with causing their deaths. During yesterday’s hearing two police officers—Marvin Bengochea and Mitchell Fraser—were called to testify in the inquiry which is being heard by Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar in the Port-of-Spain Eighth Magistrates’ Court. Bengochea and Fraser testified that on the morning of the accident, they were driving along the highway when they noticed the accident and stopped to assist. 


Prosecutors are relying on 34 witness statements given by persons who saw and responded to the scene of the accident. PC Sherwin Legere, of Bagna Trace, Chase Village, is charged with causing the deaths of Haydee Paul, 28, and her daughters—Akasha, eight, and Shakira, seven—by dangerous driving. He is also facing an additional charge of driving dangerously. The three were on a pavement on the Beetham Highway on February 24 last year, near their Pioneer Drive, Sea Lots, home, when they were struck and killed. Three of their neighbours—Abigail Assing, 31, Ryan Rampersad, 20, and Amanda Lalla, 50 — were also seriously injured in the crash. 



While Assing and Lalla recovered from their injuries within a couple of months, Rampersad, who was left almost completely paralysed, was only released from hospital on Christmas Eve last year. The survivors of the crash are not expected to testify in the case. When he first appeared in court in mid-April last year, Legere, who has more than 15 years’ service was granted $250,000 bail and ordered to surrender his passport and report to police once a week. Legere was last assigned to the Transport and Telecommunications Branch of the Police Service. 
The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Kathy Ann Waterman-Latchoo and Shelly Ann Gajadhar. Legere is being defended by Joseph Honare.