Derek Achong

A police officer has claimed that a man from Oropouche admitted to wounding a neighbour he accused of being a paedophile over a decade ago.

Testifying during Roger Ragoopath’s virtual judge-alone trial for robbery with violence before Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds yesterday, Sgt Anthony Baptiste claimed that he (Ragoopath) admitted that he and a friend attacked Ramesh Mungroo on September 2, 2007, when confronted with his mother present.

“I really had a knife on me. Me and (name witheld) went to teach Ramesh a lesson. He like to touch boys. He get he throat cut and we run,” Baptiste claimed Ragoopath said.

While cross-examining Baptiste, Ragoopath’s lawyer Renuka Rambhajan ran a “cut-throat defence” as she did not challenge whether or not Ragoopath made the statement but instead focused on why her client’s alleged accomplice was not prosecuted.

Asked whether Ragoopath admitted to robbing Mungroo in the short statement upon his arrest, Baptiste said yes despite Rambhajan pointing out that there was no mention of a robbery.

He also claimed that Mungroo, who died in unrelated circumstances before the trial, claimed he was robbed of cash and two cellphones in the attack.

Questioned why he did not get a police photographer to take photos of the scene when he visited it with Mungroo after, Baptiste said none were available at the time.

He also admitted that he mentioned Ragoopath’s accomplice during the preliminary inquiry of the case but not in his testimony because he (the accomplice) was not before the court.

He also claimed that he did not take Ragoopath’s clothes to be tested for blood as he did not know that service was available to the police at the time.

The trial is expected to completed this morning, when prosecutor Maria Lyons-Edwards is expected to close the State’s case and Ragoopath will indicate whether he wishes to testify in his defence.

When the trial kicked off on Monday, Ramsumair-Hinds considered whether she could seek permission to host an in-person hearing to allow Ragopath, who is on remand at the Golden Grove State Prison, to testify in a court without handcuff as required in the prison’s video conferencing facilities.

On Tuesday, attorneys were informed that the trial would proceed virtually.

This week, Chief Justice slightly relaxed Practice Directions for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which barred in-person hearings except in domestic violence case.

In-person hearings at court houses are now permitted in certain circumstances but approval must be sought by the judge presiding over the case.

The Judiciary has also established facilities for witnesses to give evidence under oath for virtual hearings and trials.

Baptiste used the facility at King’s Court in Port-of-Spain for his testimony.