By Samuel Mcknight, www.newsday.co.tt
A sad and shocked Michael J Williams, managing director of Century Eslon Ltd and Spancrete Products Ltd, and a former President of the Senate, has come out in defence of his former employee Ignatius Owen. “Along with 300 employees, I am sad, shocked and angry at the murder of Ignatius Owen, fondly called “Shakes,” while in the custody of the police and prison officers between Maracas/St Joseph and Remand Yard, Golden Grove Prison. Owen worked for me for 31 years, since he was 15. “He came from a good and decent family in Acono Road, Maracas, and the whole village and his co-workers will testify that “Shakes” could not harm a fly. He was a reserved, quiet, soft-spoken man who only spoke when spoken to. He could not harm a fly. He argued with nobody, would not raise his voice in anger and became very quiet when angry. “Shakes” was a master mechanic and handyman with little formal schooling, who would respond to a call for help at any hour, whether friend or stranger. He never counted the cost and if you ever felt he should be compensated, he would hang his head and mutter, ‘Anything you want to give me.’ He was generous to a fault and seemed to have endless energy, as long as his eyes were wide open.
“He took care of his children and did not deserve to die as he did. I will never believe that “Shakes” lifted a finger to hurt anyone or even retaliate, and I am calling for a proper investigation.” Owen died while incarcerated at a cell near to the Infirmary at Golden Grove Prison last Sunday morning. According to police and prisons reports, sometime between Thursday September 23 and Saturday September 25, while in Cell 13, he was beaten about the body by prisoners and then transferred to the cell near the Infirmary late Saturday night. It is also alleged that the father of three was seen banging his head on a wall sometime on Sunday morning, causing prison officials to remove all furniture from his cell. Owen was later found dead with several injuries to his body. Autopsy results performed by Dr Hughvon Des Vignes showed death by unnatural causes, but inconclusive. In a press conference Tuesday, Junior Minister of National Security, Fitzgerald Hinds, and commissioner of Prisons Carlo Mc Honey presented a document that is part of the preliminary investigations by police which said Owen was beaten by prisoners before he died.
It is alleged that when he came into the Remand Yard, he started attacking prisoners and they retaliated. The deceased prisoner was arrested around 10 am on a $25,000 maintenance warrant while working on a car close to his Acono Road home in Maracas. Family members have denied the allegations that he was beaten by prisoners. “From our information, he was beaten by police after he was arrested at his Acono Road Maracas/St Joseph home and taken to unknown places before getting to the prison where he was beaten again and then administered a tranquilizer which killed him,” Natasha Owen told Newsday. “This deduction is not ours, but based on the autopsy results which said he was administered tranquilizer therapy after he was beaten. “From all indications, a close associate of his relative instigated the arrest, and while transporting him to the prison, the police proceeded to beat him.
Hence the reason why, despite several calls to various stations shortly after his arrest, we could not find him to give him a change of clothes from the grimy ones he was wearing. “His body bore several bruises, including a broken hand and battered face, but none to the head which is contrary to what the reports have been saying. Owen was beaten, yes, by somebody and surely not prisoners. He was not that stupid. “We want to know why he was beaten and why the cover-up.” The family is also alleging that he died much earlier than the reports indicate. Senior police have denied allegations that their officers were involved. Owen was arrested on a commitment warrant and, because there is no cell at the Maracas Police Station, he would have been taken to Tunapuna Police Station and, if he had no money to pay, it is straight to Golden Grove Prison.
The stations would not have had records of him, so if the family was calling the stations, they would not have found him.” Nine prisoners who were in the cell at the time the beating is alleged to have occurred have so far been interviewed. Sources also confirmed that unlike State prison, all prisoners charged with any crime are lumped together at Remand Yard because they are innocent until proven guilty. Information reaching Newsday after a report on the investigations submitted by the police is that an inquest has been ordered into the death by the Director of Public Prosecutions. Owen will be buried at 3 pm today at the Maracas Public Cemetery after a service at the St Michael RC Church, Maracas/St Joseph Royal Road.
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