A for apple, M for murder

However, it was the murder of an eight-year-old schoolgirl Hope Arismandez which tugged at the hearts of the majority of citizens and even made grown men cry.

Up to Friday, the overall murder toll stood at 533.

Arismandez, of Umesh Drive, Lime Head Road, Chase Village, was brutally raped, buggered and murdered by a man she trusted and respected.

Hope was killed by 28-year-old Sunil Ali, who was her mother, Sherma Rajoon’s live-in boyfriend.

On May 24, Hope mysteriously disappeared from her home. She was left in the care of a neighbour and best friend of her mother —Michelle Othello. Rajoon had to go to her workplace at a supermarket in Chaguanas and had no choice but to leave her in Othello’s care since no one was at home to see after her.

However, on the eve of that dreadful day, Ali picked up Hope and took her home, where he made her bathe and change into clean clothes. He then took her for a drive in his dump truck.

Later that night, Ali returned home without her and pretending that he did not know of her whereabouts created a scene when he questioned Rajoon and other tenants of the apartment building about Hope.

The police were subsequently called in and Ali was detained for questioning. After four days of intense interrogation — on May 27, Ali finally gave in and confessed to killing Hope. He even led detectives to a canefield running parallel to Pierre Road, Charlieville, Connector Road, where Hope’s semi-nude body was found. The entire country was plunged into mourning when the tragic news broke.

An autopsy revealed that Hope died from cranial blunt trauma and external and internal haemorrhage consistent with a slashed throat. It also revealed that she may have been sexually assaulted.

Ali was then charged for her murder and appeared before Chaguanas magistrate Nanette Ford-John on May 28 where he was greeted by an angry mob who jeered, mocked, threatened and cursed him as he was escorted to and from the court by heavily armed police officers and soldiers.

Ali was denied bail and sent to the Remand Prison where he was placed in a cell located at the Top Security Block on the Eastern Side of the Golden Grove Prison, Arouca.

On May 30 at about 6.30 pm Ali was found hanging from the ventilation blocks of his Number 7 cell. His wrists were also slit.

Investigations later revealed that prisoners smuggled him a razor blade hidden in a book and coaxed him into carrying out the suicide act. Hope would have celebrated her ninth birthday on December 15.

Following Hope’s killing there were five additional children who were murdered in similar fashion — again taking a toll on the emotions of the country’s citizens.

They were as follows: Nine-month-old baby Rakeem Ricardo Clarke of Mayaro, who was pronounced dead on arrival at the Mayaro District Hospital on July 2. Rakeem’s body bore several blue-black marks. It was reported that baby Rakeem was beaten to death with a stick.

A couple — Sherry Ann Lallo, 26, and Kelt Kirk, 30, both of Mafeking Village, Mayaro, were subsequently charged for his murder and are currently before the court.

Three days later, another child was killed, this time in Central.

On July 5, Roshni Ramdial of Asaraff Street, Charlieville, was brutally beaten and killed.

A 35-year-old man, Khemraj Ramdeen was charged with her murder.

On August 1, five-year-old Jamal Grant, of Glen Road, Scarborough, died at the Scarborough Hospital after he was taken by a relative for medical attention, who claimed that he fell. Grant’s mother, Yurina Francois, 23, a waitress, left him in the care of the relative.

On December 9, two-year-old Jaheim Roberts was taken to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital by a relative where he was pronounced dead. Roberts was believed to have been beaten to death and his body bore several marks of violence. An autopsy revealed that he died from a fractured skull. A Diego Martin labourer, Andre Paris, 24, of Croney Drive, off St Lucien Road, Diego Martin has since been charged for Jaheim’s murder.

There were also two cases where children fell victims to one of their parents’ demise. They were: four-year-old Kennedy Sean Sookhai and two-year-old Vandana Ashley Ramdeen.

In Sean Kennedy’s case, he was given a poisonous liquid to drink by his father, bar-b-que vendor, Himragh Sookhai, 48, of Cunupia who then took a dose himself sometime between Easter Sunday night (March 23) and Easter Monday morning. Both bodies were found at a newly bought residence in Caroni on March 24. It is believed that Sookhai became depressed after he had an argument with his wife.

A similar incident was recorded in April where Sarah Siechan, 11, and her brother, Sean, nine, were fed a poisoned meal by their father, Sharma Siechan, 38, at their home in Rikki Trace, Ravine Sable, Longdenville. Luckily they survived. However, their father, who ate out of the same meal died.

The second incident occurred on November 6. Vandana Ashley Ramdeen was given a poisonous cocktail to drink in her favourite soft-drink bottle by her father, Vishal Nigel Ramdeen, 25, of St Margaret’s Village, Claxton Bay. Ramdeen also took his own life by drinking the deadly mixture. Ramdeen and Vandana were found inside his green Sunny Super Saloon car near a canefield in Belle Vue Road, Diamond, Claxton Bay. Police claimed that the incident occurred subsequent to a heated domestic argument.

Another heart-rendering story coming out of 2008 was when five-month-old baby Zion Jones, also known as “Fatman”, was fatally shot while in the arms of his father, Anthony Jones, who was also killed.

This incident occurred on the night of June 7. Jones of Picton Road, Laventille, hired a taxi to take his son Zion to his mother, Dana, when they were both shot.

Jones died at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital later that same night, while baby Zion died the following day — June 8 — at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mount Hope.

Even in the nation’s schools, three children were killed by other children over trivial matters. On February 26, form five student of the Success/Laventille Composite School, Shaquille Roberts, 15, was fatally stabbed over a dispute with another student. That student was detained for questioning but was subsequently released from police custody. No one was ever charged for Roberts’ murder.

On May 16, 15-year-old form four student of the Barataria Senior Comprehensive School, Alonzo Pierre, was on his way to get transport to go to school, when he saw a boy who had slapped his friend.

Alonzo hit the boy, who pulled out a knife and stabbed him in the chest.

On October 27, Ricardo John, 15, a student of the Barataria Senior Secondary School died after he was shot in the head while he and his friends allegedly played with a gun at a house on Fatman Lane, Prizgar Lands, Laventille.

The ongoing gang warfare in the country also claimed the life of an innocent 13-year-old girl.

On October 26, Kimberly Monderoy, a student of the Mucurapo Comprehensive School, was shot dead when she was caught in the cross fire of two warring gangs at Cuthbert Circular, Four Roads, Diego Martin.

Recently, on December 12, gunmen stormed a house at King Street, Penal Rock Road, in search of a man, and instead shot and killed seven-year-old Abigail Norman, while she was playing. Police classified that as a “hit”, not merely gang-related but an incident which stemmed from a court matter.

The most recent murder was one in which a 14-year-old boy was killed. On December 13, Tony Jaggan of Cantaro Extension, Santa Cruz, was fatally stabbed after leaving Queen’s Royal College’s party which was held at the Woodbrook Youth Facility. It is believed that Jaggan was attacked after he tried to save his friend, Dwight Nicholas, 19, who was struck by a vehicle in which their attackers were travelling.

According to a police report, after Nicholas was struck, Jaggan tapped on the window of the vehicle and questioned “What scene is that?” That was when, police said, the car stopped and one of the occupants armed with an icepick got out and stabbed both Jaggan and Nicholas. Jaggan died shortly after he came out of emergency surgery at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital while Nicholas sustained a punctured left lung.


"A for apple, M for murder"

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