12 hours after he went missing... 'Akiel's body floats up in pool...just so'
By FRANCIS JOSEPH
Twelve hours after Akiel Chambers went missing, his schoolfriend Carrie James was bathing in the swimming pool at her Haleland Park, Maraval home, with two other friends. Carrie said the pool was clear and there was no body in it.
At the inquest into Akiel's death yesterday, Carrie said she got out of the pool, had breakfast and went to the front of her house to play. Ninety minutes later, police arrived at her house and one of the policemen looked into the pool and shouted "look, look, it right there." When Carrie looked, she saw Akiel's body in a crouched position floating in the deep end of the pool. She started to cry and her mother called her inside the house. Carrie was certain that when she was in the pool 90 minutes earlier, that body was not there. Carrie, 16, a student in Canada, flew into Trinidad to testify at the inquest into the death of 11-year-old Akiel Chambers who was found floating in the pool on May 24, 1998. The inquest is being heard before Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls, presiding as Coroner, at the Port-of-Spain Magistrates' Court.
Desmond Allum SC and Donna Prowell are looking after the interest of the Chambers family, while Sgt Kenneth Cordner is the prosecutor. Hearing resumes this morning. Carrie hosted a party at her home on May 23, 1998, to celebrate her 11th birthday. She invited friends from her school, Blackman's Private School. There were about 25 to 30 children, including Akiel Chambers, her classmate. Carrie told the Coroner that her friends started arriving at midday, but she could not say for sure when Akiel arrived. There were also six parents at the party supervising the children who were bathing in the pool at the back of the house. Among the parents were Patrick Young who was there with his son Mikhail, and Mr Craigwell who attended with his sons Christopher and Anthony. Carrie remembered Akiel's arrival. "I asked him if he was going to swim. He told me no, because his aunt said he could not go swimming and that he could not swim." Half an hour later, some of the children went to the toy room by the play station. Carrie said Akiel was one of the children whom she left in that room. She went with other friends to bathe in the pool. Around 4 pm, the children were coming out of the pool to eat near the bar area around the pool.
Carrie said she went to get Akiel. But when they went out to the pool area, the tables and chairs were filled, so they returned to the kitchen area to eat barbeque. After eating, Akiel returned to the toy room. Some time later, Carrie went to the toy room only to find that the children were ''making mess.'' She ordered them out. "Akiel came outside near the pool area. That was the last time I saw Akiel alive," Carrie added. She was certain that Akiel was not in the pool at any time that day. The pool, she added, was cloudy, describing it as choppy because of the number of children using it. Around 5 pm, Carrie said she got out of the pool to cut her birthday cake. After cutting the cake, children continued bathing in the pool, but were told to get out by 5.30 pm because the party was ending at 6 pm. Around that time, Akiel's aunt Valerie Pascall turned up to collect Akiel. "We started to look for Akiel. We were shouting his name. I did not look in the pool because he said he couldn't swim. The pool started to turn ''milky.'' Carrie said she retired to bed around 9 pm, but was awakened by her mother around midnight. The police had visited her home. Carrie's mother asked her to supply the police with a list of the people who attended the party. The policemen went by the pool with Valerie Pascall. One of the officers used a pool stick and dragged it around the pool to see if anything was there. Carrie then went inside.
The following morning, Carrie said she went into the pool with two of her friends. The police returned to the house and went to the pool area. Carrie, who accompanied the police, said one of the officers shouted "Look, look, it right there." When Carrie looked, she saw a body clad in a red trunks, floating in the pool. Carrie described Akiel as quiet. Questioned by Allum, Carrie said she did not see Akiel at the cake-cutting session. Asked about her swim the following morning, Carrie said, "If there was a body in that pool at that time, I would have seen it. That body was not in that pool when I was swimming. If that body was there, I would have seen a shadow. If the body was at the bottom of the pool, I would have seen it." Carrie said that on the morning that the body was found, she saw Craigwell at her home. He asked if Akiel's body was found. He was speaking to Carrie's mother at the front gate. She could not remember if her mother gave a response. Questioned by the Coroner, Carrie said when she was swimming the following morning, she was not looking for a body. It never occurred to her that Akiel drowned and was in her pool.
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