"They want me dead!"
That was the shocking declaration by Calvin Greenidge, 32, who alleged that he had to flee this country after several attempts were made to kill him over the last five years by a well-known gangster with connections to a high-ranking government minister.
Greenidge, who fled to the United Kingdom (UK) for safety, said his troubles started after he spoke openly about the connection between the government minister and the gangster, and then gave a detailed statement to the police about how they were connected and the illegal activities that they have been involved in since 2012.
On January 17 this year, almost two years after he barely survived another attempt on his life–in July 2020–and was shot nine times, Greenidge left for the UK with several death threats still hanging over his head. There were two other attempts to kill him, he claimed.
He later filed for asylum through the United Kingdom Home Office of Visas and Immigration with the help of Harpreet Ghai, a specialist lawyer with expertise in immigration and asylum cases.
But on May 26, five months after filing for asylum, his claim was rejected.
The UK Home Office felt the majority of the information that Greenidge gave about the threats made on his life by a gang leader and his members was not convincing enough.
He has since appealed that decision and the case is now set for July 13.
In his submissions to the UK agency, Greenidge never stated anything about the government minister. However, he now plans to use this as part of his appeal.
Greenidge, speaking to Guardian Media during an exclusive 45-minute interview last week, was asked why he had not initially named the senior government minister in his asylum request. He said, "I told them in my asylum request that (gang leader name called) had links. I never call (senior government minister name called) because I was kind of nervous at that time and I did not know who he may have known, but I intend to put that in my appeal."
He said that the shared enterprise between the gang leader and the minister has allowed them both to benefit financially. "Both of them getting more money and for the gang leader he can now buy more guns for his gang and continue to bully and intimidate people in that area."
The lawyer, responding to questions sent to her by Guardian Media, confirmed that Greenidge's matter will be appealed and she was representing him. Asked if she had been told by her client about the connection with the gang leader and a senior government minister, she said, "I am aware of the connection but not much more than that." Ghai said she would have to obtain further evidence to support this claim if her client desired this to be part of his appeal. "I will have to review the information before I can submit it to the Home Office as well as discuss it with my client," Ghai explained.
Senior intelligence sources in the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service confirmed that Greenidge spoke with a police officer in late 2018 and related all the information that he knew which was recorded by the officer during an interview that lasted more than an hour. Following that, another officer assisted in preparing an official report that was forwarded to the head of that particular police department.
An image of Calvin Greenidge's leg while lying on a bed in the hospital after being shot nine times about the body.
How does he know the gang leader?
Greenidge said he and the alleged gang leader grew up together in a community (name called). He said the man was involved in drug running and controlled a block after his mother passed away.
"They were coming around in the area with box drain, and other contracts and thing and selling drugs and they wanted me to be part of it and I was against it."
His protestations were met with anger, he said. He claimed that one of the gang leader's family members (name called) was subsequently murdered and they accused him of the killing. "When that happen (murder) they just use that to get rid of me." He said, "Police pick me home in (name of the area called) November 2012 and carry me to the station in Chaguanas. Homicide officers interviewed me and later charged me. I stayed two years and eight months in Golden Grove.
"Certain men in the jail tell me to watch myself because they wanted to chop me up and kill me. I told the prison officers about the threats and in 2015 they moved me to MSP in isolation until Senior Magistrate Lucina Cardenas-Ragoonanan dismissed the case in the magistrates' court and I walked out the court a free man in July 2016."
According to the magistrate's case book extract for this matter that was obtained by Guardian Media, the court found "that the evidence is manifestly unreliable so that no reasonable tribunal can commit. The evidence of the main witness Ken Alexander was inconsistent and unreliable, there being no other evidence to support said witness. Discharged."
Greenidge maintains his innocence in the murder and said it was part of an elaborate plan by the gang leader and the minister who have been "friends and associates since then," to get him out of the way as he was openly linking them to each other.
An image of Calvin Greenidge's arm while lying on a bed in the hospital after being shot nine times about the body.
"I never knew anything about that murder. They pinned that on me and wanted to get me out of the way because I was talking about (name of gang leader called) and (name of senior government minister called)," he said.
His problems escalated
Greenidge said after leaving the court a free man the problems in his life escalated.
"I went back to live in (name of the area called) with my family, my mother and sisters, and the men use to pass and shoot up in the air to scare them when I was not home. In December 2016 near home, I was walking to meet my girlfriend at that time and men in a car passed and started shooting at me. I escaped since it had other cars parked nearby so I used them as cover and jumped over a wall and ran. I got shot in the leg but the bullet went through and through."
Greenidge said he did not report that matter to the police since the reputed gang leader had connections at that particular police station. "Police would even joke to me that they would take me and drop me off on (gang leader name called) drug block. They knew what was going on and they knew that these people wanted me dead."
The threats and attempts on his life continued frequently, he claimed. In 2017 he said that he received several Facebook threats and messages from strange people with fake profiles. "Some were pretending to be women and saying they want to meet me, but I know that was a trap and some were straight threats. They told me if they catch me I will not live and they will be hunting me to kill me."
It was also in 2017 Greenidge said that someone connected to the gang leader claimed he (Greenidge) shot at them one morning at a job site in Central. Greenidge said he was charged with that shooting matter but the court matter has not gotten off the ground to date and the last time it was called for mention in January of this year the complainant in the case is yet to appear. "I know this was part of a set-up, because I never shot at him," contended Greenidge.
The shooting matter comes up for another case hearing on July 6.
Uneasy and constantly looking over his shoulder Greenidge said in mid-2018 he moved to a relative's home in Marabella. "I remember about September of that year walking down the street and I heard a car driving up behind me. When I turned around I saw a man coming out and running towards me with a gun and he started to shoot. I ran and got away. One of the bullets grazed my right leg but it was only a flesh wound," Greenidge said.
After that second shooting incident, Greenidge decided to spill the beans and tell all. "I had someone close to me who works in the police service in a particular department and I gave him a detailed statement and information then about everything and what this gang leader and senior government minister were involved in, their activities and how they were connected," revealed Greenidge.
"Since then I know now more than ever they want to kill me because they know I call their name and I gave information to the police that could be detrimental to their operations," said Greenidge.
Greenidge said after the 2018 shooting incident he tried to lie low. "I tried to keep a low profile after that moving from place to place and in 2020, I moved to Sangre Grande since my family did not want to assist me and they did not want anyone to run into their house and kill them."
He said he rented a one-bedroom apartment in July of that year and stayed there for about seven months while he made his regular visits to the Sangre Grande Police Station according to bail conditions in his shooting matter.
"They knew I was reporting to that police station. One night I came out of my apartment in Sangre Grande close to midnight to put some garbage outside, a gunman walk up to me and started shooting me. I got shot nine times. In both my hands and both legs, my hip and stomach. The gunman came over me while I was lying on the ground and squeeze but the gun was empty and he run off. One of my legs was broken and one of my hands broken," Greenidge said.
He was rushed to the Sangre Grande Hospital by nearby residents and spent three weeks recovering after surgery.
Realising that his every move was being tracked, Greenidge fled the Sangre Grande apartment and went to live with the mother of his child in Arouca.
"I did not go to report to the police station because I knew people were waiting for me, but my lawyer did notify the court of my condition since I was still in a wheelchair," said Greenidge.
A report from the Eastern Regional Health Authority on Calvin Greenidge's medical condition..
"While I was laying low people telling me that they have a hit on my head and the bounty is $500,000 to kill me because I called the gang leader and the senior government minister name in a report that I gave to police back then."
UK Home office not convinced
With the constant threats on his life that forced him to run from place to place, Greenidge claimed he did not feel safe living in T&T anymore.
But the UK Home office was not convinced by his claims.
The agency indicated that the following material facts were accepted which were: "Greenidge's nationality and identity, the fact he was accused of murder in 2012 and acquitted in 2016, he was shot on three separate occasions and he was held in relation to a shooting matter that is still pending before the courts."
They stated, "Notwithstanding the above material facts. The material issue to be determined is whether the Rasta City gang and/or family of the murdered have threatened you and whether that threat is currently ongoing."
The UK's agency further added, "You claim that due to the incident that occurred in 2012, the gang/family are seeking revenge. You claim that the last incident occurred in 2020 when you were shot. You claim you were receiving threats on Facebook and that you received two threats in 2019 and the last threat received in 2021."
In their response to relocation, the agency stated, "Paragraph 3390 of the Immigration Rules provides that a grant of refugee status will not be made if part of the country of origin, a person would not have a well-founded fear of being persecuted, and the person can reasonably be expected to stay in that part of the country.
"It is noted that in Trinidad and Tobago you fear returning to (name of the area called). This means that you have related your fear of return only to certain areas within Trinidad and Tobago. You claim that (gang leader name called) and his men have the means to locate you throughout Trinidad and Tobago. However, this is not accepted as gangs run those areas and if you don't have anyone in that area and there is no way you could go back to Trinidad.
"However, you have demonstrated on several occasions how you internally relocated within the country and aside from being shot on three separate occasions that you had no contact with (gang leader name called) or his gang and it is therefore purely speculative on your behalf that were you to return to Trinidad and Tobago that you would be pursued and located by him or his gang.
"You have also failed to demonstrate that (gang leader name called) and his gang and family have an ongoing interest in you or clear motivation in pursuing you by your own admission, you stated that whilst you lived in Arouca, Trinidad and Tobago with your girlfriend for an unknown length of time until you left the country and came to the UK on 17th January 2022, you had no contact with (gang leader name called) or anybody else other than over the phone."
Greenidge said he was not disheartened by the UK Home Office's initial decision.
"I want to show them this is ongoing and they still want to kill me because they do not want me calling people name. This is a big-money enterprise I interfered with by informing the police. I want to stay in the United Kingdom and live a safe life."