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. 

Reporter: Derek Achong