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Obeah threat for cops

Published: 
Saturday, April 7, 2018
Suspect in court for prison officer’s murder
Andre Lavia is escorted to the Port-of-Spain Magistrates, charged with the murder of prison officer Devendra Boodooram. PICTURE ABRAHAM DIAZ

The family and lawyer of the 24-year-old man from East Port-of-Spain charged with the murder of prison officer Devendra Boodooram are claiming that he was framed by police.

They made the allegation before and during Andre “Famo” Lavia’s court appearance before acting Chief Magistrate Maria Busby-Earle-Caddle in the Port-of-Spain Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

After the charges were read to Lavia, his lawyer Richard Clarke-Wills questioned why police prosecutors were unable to disclose the summary of evidence against his client.

Under the recently introduced Criminal Procedure Rules, the summary, which includes the number of witnesses and a brief outline of the case against an accused, is required to be disclosed at the first hearing or as soon as practical.

Clarke-Wills said: “How are we to know that they are not fabricating the case as they go along?”

Police prosecutor Sgt Rawle Ramharack said that the investigator, who was absent in court, was in the process of compiling the case file and would then forward it to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Clarke-Wills’ allegation mirrored those made outside the courtroom by a group of Lavia’s female relatives before the hearing.

The emotional relatives were almost barred from the hearing by police officers of the Court and Process Branch, as they repeated screamed the allegations and hurled veiled threats at the police officers as soon as the accused arrived at the St Vincent Street courthouse in an unmarked police vehicle.

“Police only framing ghetto people. I thought they killed the man who killed the officer and now they want to give my child’s father the case,” one of the relatives said.

She was referring to the police killing Akeil “Christmas” James in February which sparked outrage and protest action by residents of East Port-of-Spain.

“I will remember all they faces and will work a obeah on them,” another woman screamed.

They were eventually pacified by a group of female police officers and were only allowed to enter the court after promising that they would behave.

In addition to being charged with murdering Boodooram on January 26, Lavia was slapped with charges of possession of a firearm and ammunition. He was not called upon to plead to the charges.

He was also charged with a small quantity marijuana, which was allegedly found on him while he was at the Central Police Station on Thursday night. Lavia pleaded not guilty to the charge.

His lawyer also questioned how his client came into possession of an illegal drug while he was detained by police since Sunday.

“He was back and forth between Besson Street Police Station and the Homicide Bureau and was searched each and every time. It is passingly strange that this was found on him,” Clarke-Wills said.

Claiming that his client was beaten by police while in custody, Clarke-Wills said Lavia was worried that the attacks would continue while he is remanded in the Port-of-Spain State Prison, where Boodooram worked.

“He is concerned that he may be the subject of reprisal attacks or retribution from the colleagues of the deceased,” Clarke-Wills said.

Boodooram, 50, was driving along Frederick Street in Port-of-Spain after finishing his shift at the prison when he was shot dead by a gunman near to St Mary’s College.

The father of two was shot four times- once to the head, once to the neck and twice in his chest. He died on the scene.

Within days of the murder, homicide detectives released a sketch of Boodooram’s killer but Lavia was only arrested near his home at East Dry River, on Sunday. He was seen at James’ funeral.

Boodooram’s murder came amid threats against prison officers over excessive force alleged used by prison officers during a routine search exercise in January.

Police had claimed that Boodooram’s murder was a case of mistaken identity as he was not on duty on the day of the alleged abuse.

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