A 28-year-old man from South Oropouche has been freed of robbing and wounding a neighbour, who he claimed attempted to molest him.
Delivering her verdict at the end of Roger Ragoopath’s virtual judge-alone trial for robbery with violence, Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds acquitted him as she ruled that State prosecutors had failed to prove their case against him.
Ramsumair-Hinds noted that the victim Ramesh Mungroo passed away in unrelated circumstances before the case came up for hearing.
Although prosecutors were allowed to utilise a transcript of Mungroo’s testimony given during the preliminary inquiry of the case, Ramsumair-Hinds noted that it had to be carefully considered as he was not subjected to cross-examination and could not clarify evidential gaps.
She also noted that there was some inconsistency between Mungroo’s claims and medical reports which raised reasonable doubt.
“The evidence could have been marshalled with a greater deal of circumspection,” she said.
Ramsumair-Hinds also said she considered that Ragoopath was a credible witness with a clean criminal record, except for the charge over the alleged attack on Mungroo.
Ragoopath and a friend were charged with attacking Mungroo on September 2, 2007.
Mungroo was allegedly walking near his home when he was attacked, slashed with a knife, and robbed of $80 and two cellphones.
Mungroo survived and identified his attackers.
In the trial, prosecutors were mainly relying on a statement, which Ragoopath alleged gave police when confronted over the incident in his mother’s presence.
“I really had a knife on me. Me and (name withheld) went to teach Ramesh a lesson. He like to touch boys. He get he throat cut and we run,” Ragoopath allegedly said.
Ragoopath did not deny making the statement when he elected to testify in his defence.
Ragoopath, who was 15-years-old at the time, claimed that hours before the incident, Mungroo gave him marijuana to smoke and attempted to molest him in a play park in the community.
Ragoopath said he told his friend and they agreed to confront Mungroo.
He admitted that his friend and Mungroo had a scuffle and claimed that he ran away when he noticed that Mungroo was bleeding from a wound to his neck. Ragoopath also denied robbing Mungroo.
Ragoopath’s friend went missing after the preliminary inquiry and was arrested by police while the trial was at an advanced stage.
Ramsumair-Hinds and prosecutors were initially considering reopening the case against Ragoopath to include his friend but decided against it.
Ragoopath’s friend, whose name was withheld to avoid prejudicing his case if he elects to have a jury trial, will now be tried separately, at a later date.
Ragoopath was represented by Renuka Rambhajan, while Maria Lyons-Edwards prosecuted.