The San Juan ‘PH’ taxi driver accused of the murder of 18-year-old Ashanti Riley made his first court appearance yesterday.
Luciano “Brian” Quash, 34, of Bagatelle Road, San Juan, was not called upon to plead to the charge when he appeared virtually before Magistrate Indar Jagroo, hours after Riley’s funeral at the Mt D’or Seven Day Adventist (SDA) Church.
Although Quash, who was represented by attorney Fareed Ali, was accused of committing the murder with other persons, the charge did not include the names of his alleged accomplices.
Quash was also not called upon to plead to two separate charges for sexually penetrating a 16-year-old girl, who was allegedly attacked on March 14 and identified Quash after he was arrested in connection with Riley’s disappearance and murder. According to the charge papers, obtained by Guardian Media, one of the attacks allegedly took place in San Juan, while the other took place near the location where Riley’s body was found at Upper La Canoa, Santa Cruz.
As there is no bail for the substantive charge of murder, Jagroo did not consider bail for the two sexual offences charges, as is sometimes done as a legal formality in cases where persons are charged with multiple offences, including murder.
After the case was adjourned to January 11, Quash, who made his court appearance from a police station, was transferred to the custody of the T&T Prison Service, which will decide which remand facility he will be housed at for the duration of his case.
Riley was reported missing on November 29. Her decomposing body was found in Santa Cruz on December 4, almost three days after Quash was arrested by officers of the Northern Eastern Division Task Force (NEDTF).
An autopsy revealed that she had been stabbed and beaten to death.
While police received the green light from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to charge Quash last Thursday, homicide detectives waited until their colleagues in the Child Protection Unit (CPU) completed their investigation into the sexual assault of the other minor before laying all the charges on Sunday afternoon.
Police also had a second suspect in custody but released him before charging Quash. The investigation into Riley’s murder was conducted by Inspectors Stanisclaus and Maharaj and PC Thomas of the Region Two Homicide Bureau of Investigations.
The investigation into the assault on the minor was conducted by W/Supt. George, ASP Sookdeo, Sgt Bishop and PC Pinder of the CPU.