Four of the six men detained since last Wednesday in Grenada, pleaded guilty yesterday to assaulting Grenadian national athlete Anderson Peters.
Deckhand John Alexander, 55, sailor Mikhail John, 35, captain Noel Cooper, 42 and sailor Sheon Jack, 28, pleaded guilty to causing grievous harm to Peters and causing harm to his brother, Kiddon Peters, when they appeared in the St Georges’ Magistrates Court.
They were also charged with stealing.
The convicted men will be sentenced tomorrow (August 17).
Under Grenadian law, the maximum possible sentence is $3,000 Eastern Caribbean (EC) and two years’ imprisonment.
A fifth Trinidadian, sailor Lance Wiggins, pleaded not guilty to the charges and due to a lack of evidence against him, all charges were dropped.
Charges against the sixth detained man, police officer Abiola Benjamin, were also dropped.
Cop freed of charges recounts ‘trauma’
In an exclusive interview with Guardian Media yesterday from Grenada, Benjamin recounted the trauma he experienced after being placed behind bars for what he claims were false allegations.
He declined to comment on statements made by the defence attorney, former Grenadian Attorney General Cajeton Hood, on the possibility of private criminal charges being brought against Peters over the incident.
Benjamin said contrary to information released by the Grenadian police, he was not employed with the Harbour Master at the time of the incident.
But he said in the past, he has worked as a security consultant for the Harbour Master.
“I have an apartment in Grenada and I was staying here. The guys from the vessel called to let me know they would be coming up and they asked if I could try to find some bar staff and other staff for the vessel for the events, so I did,” Benjamin said.
On the day of the incident, Benjamin said his wife, who is also a police officer, was in Grenada for their Carnival celebrations. She left for Trinidad around midday and Benjamin said he went on to attend the event on the vessel.
When the event was over and a scuffle broke out between Peters and his group and the Harbour Master crew, Benjamin claims he was struck and knocked unconscious.
“I didn’t even get a chance to defend myself. As soon as it started, I was knocked out for a couple of seconds, the bar staff took me over to by the bar and they were giving me water. By the time I catch myself, the storm was already over,” Benjamin said.
He said when police arrived on the vessel immediately after the altercation, he tried telling them he was injured and needed medical attention.
However, he was hauled away to the Central Police Station, along with the crew members and placed in a cell.
“Immediately, they started saying we supposed to be dead, how come we still alive, then they put me in the cell even though I kept telling them I am a victim here and I have injuries and I need to seek medical attention,” Benjamin alleged.
He said it was not until 11 pm that he was taken to the hospital for treatment.
Benjamin said he and Wiggins were later taken to Grand Anse and kept in a police station there. He claimed the conditions of the cells were deplorable and the treatment from the police officers was not much better.
“Both of us stayed on the same wooden makeshift bed that was there….the following day when we asked to use the bathroom, there was an oldish police officer there, the same thing he saying that we supposed to be dead and coming from Trinidad with our bad ways and causing trouble,” Benjamin said.
He said it was not until they were interviewed by CID officers on Friday and moved back to the Central Police Station, that they were treated better by the officers.
Benjamin said by then, the officers knew he was a police officer as well.
“They showed real love from the Friday, when everyone started making good sense prevail, they were great, the only problem was the infrastructure, which they had no control over.”
On Sunday, Benjamin was told the charges against him were being dropped but he was still taken to court along with the other co-accused yesterday.
“They paraded us to the court, I don’t know if it was a form of ridicule, it was really hurtful that one side, an edited version of the whole incident, was taken,” he said.
However, Benjamin described Grenada as his second home, saying although he had a terrible experience, he would not harbour any ill will towards its people.
“Grenada is still one of the number one Caribbean islands to visit, I will never say different, even with my experience,” he said.
He said although he was free to leave, he is hoping to remain until the Harbour Master crew is sentenced.