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Witness: Husband was never suspect

Thursday, May 1, 2014
Vindra Niapual Coolman Murder Trial

Rennie Coolman, the husband of businesswoman Vindra Naipaul-Coolman, was not a suspect in his wife’s kidnapping. The statement was made by PC Adil Khan as he gave evidence in Naipaul-Coolman’s murder trial in the Port-of-Spain High Court yesterday. “During my investigation his name never came up as a suspect,” Khan said. Despite his claim, Khan, formerly assigned to the Anti-Kidnapping Unit, admitted he was not the main investigator of the businesswoman’s abduction on December 19, 2006. 


Khan testified he was one of the first responders to the crime scene and assisted in securing it and taking initial statements from Coolman and his stepdaughter Risha Ali. He said although his interaction with Naipaul-Coolman’s family was limited to that night, he remained involved in the investigation, as there was constant collaboration between members of his unit.


When asked about his interviews with Coolman and Ali, Khan said he first took a description of Naipaul-Coolman’s attackers and their getaway vehicle, which he immediately passed on to his superiors. He said he then advised the family members to look out for a possible ransom call and not to begin negotiations by offering money. 



Khan’s statements were consistent with the testimony of Coolman, who preceded him, and who had said that during ransom calls, his wife’s brother Ryan asked the caller to ask Naipaul-Coolman for the address of their house in Canada. While under cross-examination from defence attorney Mario Merritt, who is representing two of the men on trial, Khan was asked what measures his unit had implemented to monitor the incident in which a $122,000 ransom payment was made in Arima, the day after the kidnapping. 


Khan said they did not do surveillance on the drop-off point or place a tracking device on the bag of money. Khan’s cross-examination was considerably shorter than Coolman’s, ending in less than a hour after several attorneys chose not to question him. Another police officer from the unit, who accompanied Khan on the scene, is the next witness expected to be called by prosecutors.  


The trial before Justice Malcolm Holdip in the Port-of-Spain Second Criminal Court will resume on Monday as Holdip said he had to attend the funeral service of former president Arthur NR Robinson today and was scheduled to preside over separate cases in the San Fernando High Court tomorrow.  


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