Derek Achong

A former soldier has begun to testify against eight men accused of kidnapping and murdering real estate agent Gerald Gopaul, almost 15 years ago.

As he took the witness stand before High Court Judge Norton Jack at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain, yesterday morning, Jason Percival sought to outline how Gopaul’s abduction was planned and executed.

Percival claimed to be present during the planning stages and when Gopaul, 52, was snatched from a bar near to his Diamond Village, San Fernando, home, on July 8, 2005.

During his testimony, Percival could not remember the exact date of the incident but recalled that it took place on a Friday.

Percival, who was part of several teams that were tasked with coordinating and performing the kidnapping, claimed that when they rendezvoused afterwards, one of his accomplices claimed that Gopaul had “gotten away”.

Percival’s next alleged involvement was the day after when he was present as an accomplice began making ransom calls to Gopaul’s family.

He was also allegedly present when the mastermind behind the kidnapping received news that Gopaul had passed away in the forested area of Bourg Mulatresse, where he was being held captive.

While Percival admitted that others were assigned to dispose of Gopaul’s body, he claimed that he followed them to determine the location.

Percival repeatedly claimed that he attempted to contact a colleague, referred to only as Corporal Phillip, throughout the process.

He claimed that he only managed to get in contact after Percival’s body was dumped.

Percival claimed that Phillip was initially unable to locate the body and that they met for him (Percival) to point out the exact area of Trantrail Road in St Augustine.

Questioned by prosecutor Anju Bhola over his motivation for surrendering to police shortly after, Percival said: “I did not want to be living my life on the run. I wanted to take responsibility for my actions.”

During his testimony, Percival was repeatedly called upon to identify the persons from his narrative from the eight men before the court.

The accused men are Kenneth Pierre, Paul Boodoo, Ricardo Stevenson, Clifford Sorias, Marvin Critchlow, Kendall Joseph, Sherwin Crystom, and Kendell Davis.

The men are being represented by a team of attorneys including Pamela Elder, SC, Evans Welch, Frank Peterson, Wayne Sturge, Mario Merritt, Richard Clarke-Wills and Stephen Wilson. Giselle Ferguson-Heller is also prosecuting.

Percival’s cross-examination is expected to begin when the trial resumes today.