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Murder accused teens kept apart in court


Almost one week after Sean Luke’s battered and decomposing body was found in a cane field a short distance from his home, two teenagers appeared in Couva Magistrates Court yesterday charged with the six-year-old’s murder.

The teens, who are related, appeared expressionless inside the courtroom while they waited for the charge to be read to them.

The 13-year-old, of north Trinidad, and the 16-year-old, of Central, were ushered in at 8.42 am by plain-clothes police, who shielded them from media photographers.

The 16-year-old, of East Indian descent, was seen clapping his hands, mouthing words and shaking his head slightly in court. He was clad in a white and lilac checkered shirt and grey pants.

The 13-year-old, of African descent, dressed in a blue and white jersey and blue jeans, glanced around the courtroom, apparently dazed, twiddling his thumbs. He kept his head down most of the time, avoiding the eyes of Luke’s family, who were seated opposite to him.

The boys sat apart and did not speak to each other.

Police allowed nobody to sit on the bench behind the youths, as they stood guard around them. Later, the 16-year-old’s mother and stepfather were allowed to sit behind the youngsters.

When the matter was called, journalists and members of the public were ordered to leave the courtroom by police prosecutor Sgt Sharon Corbette.

Golsin Moonie, Luke’s grandmother, his aunt Marilyn Persad and other relatives, all dressed in red as a sign of protest, were allowed to remain. Five minutes later, when the relatives emerged from court, Persad was weeping.

A police source said the matter was stood down by Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar, since the 13-year-old had no family member in court. She instructed the police to get his relatives in court before she proceeded.

Luke’s grandmother, visibly upset, said she had seen the 16-year-old singing in court while he waited for his name to be called.

Moonie said Luke’s mother Pauline Lumfai refused to come to court.

“She don’t want to see their faces,” she said.

The elderly woman said her grieving daughter was taking medication to calm herself.

At 10.15 am the public was allowed to re-enter the courtroom.

Shortly afterwards, a woman who was escorted into the court by police was identified as the 13-year-old’s aunt.

The Guardian learnt that a woman from Social Services/Child Welfare Department was also in court.

A short while later, journalists and members of the public were again asked to leave the courtroom.

Attorney Darriel Giles appeared for the 13-year-old, while the 16-year-old was unrepresented. Giles, who spoke to reporters outside the court, said they were remanded into custody at the Youth Training Centre (YTC).

The matter was adjourned to April 12.

Giles said the younger teen’s mother was unable to attend court as she was ill. He said he was asked to appear for the teen only ten minutes before the case was called.

The attorney said the boys were “ignorant” of what was happening yesterday, and “appeared scared.”

He said he explained the charge to them, and added that a psychiatrist was waiting at Couva Police Station to speak to them before transferring them to the YTC.

Luke went missing on March 28 from his Orange Valley home. His naked, decomposing body was found in a cane field 300 feet from his house.

He had been sodomised with a cane stalk.

The six-year-old died from internal injuries and haemorrhaging.

When the courtroom doors were again opened, journalists and members of the public re-entered.

Police hastened the teens out of the court through a side entrance after instructing the boys’ relatives to remain seated.

When the Guardian attempted to leave, the court door could not be opened as a policeman was blocking it from the outside.

No photos allowed

The Guardian has not published photographs of the teenagers charged with murdering Sean Luke.

Section 87(5) of the Children’s Act, Chap 46:01, stipulates:

“No person shall publish the name, address, school, photograph or anything likely to lead to the identification of the child or young person before the court, save with the permission of the court or insofar as required by this Act.”

Yesterday, Director of Public Prosecutions Geoffrey Henderson, in a letter to the editor, advised:

“Kindly ensure there is strict observance with this statutory prohibition.”

©2005-2006 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

Trinidad and Tobago News

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