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School teacher Suzette Sylvester, who was allegedly beaten to death by a close male relative, with some of her former students at the El Dorado West Secondary.

Rhondor Dowlat-Rostant

A 48-year-old teacher and mother was discovered yesterday morning, bludgeoned to death at her Preysal, Couva home.

Police believe a male relative beat Suzette Sylvester, a secondary school teacher, with a hammer until she was dead.

A police report states that Sylvester’s body was discovered by her son around 6 am.

He then raised an alarm to his grandmother and uncle who live next door their home at Mowlah Trace Extension.

Sylvester’s mother told police that she saw the suspect leaving the compound.

Police said the suspect walked into the Chaguanas Police Station and alerted them to the situation.

Officers subsequently went to the scene where they met grieving relatives who ushered them into Sylvester’s bedroom to where her body was, slumped on the ground near the bed.

Preliminary investigations revealed that Sylvester and the male relative had an argument between 10.30 pm and midnight on Sunday.

Police said they were told that Sylvester later went to bed at about 2.10 am Monday morning.

Sylvester was a Secondary School Literature teacher at Preysal Secondary School.

Speaking with the Guardian Media at his home, Sylvester’s brother said he was in shock over his sister’s death.

He added that if his sister was in an abusive relationship he never knew.

“I saw them both over the weekend and they seemed very happy. She was talking and laughing so if there was something going on I never knew and I never even suspected anything.”

He added that his sister was never the type to be involved in arguments. “She never liked quarrelling. If there was any quarrel she was the type to end it. She was always jolly and pleasant.”

Sylvester’s death sent shockwaves among her colleagues and past and present students. One of her colleagues lamented: “Suz you tried…God knows how much you tried.”

“Lord I have so many questions. Why her? Why he couldn’t just leave. She was soooooooo beautiful and humble and everything perfect. I’m sure she got up in the most perfect spirit to start her day with her students. What about her son? This is not fair! Suzette Sylvester I have never expected to see this, never in a million years. You were so jolly, always laughing. I just can’t accept this,” one of her colleagues wrote on social media.

A past student described her as a “beautiful soul,”.

“No one deserves to die like this no one. Such a beautiful soul. She was my school mom. When people asked me how I made it through high school with the many challenges I have faced in life, it’s because of teachers like her.”

The Ministry of Education also extended condolences to Sylvester’s family, students, colleagues and friends.

It noted that Sylvester moved to Preysal High School in September 2016, after 15 years of service at the El Dorado West Secondary School.

In a release, the ministry said the education community was both shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic circumstances surrounding Sylvester’s death.

It added the Student Support Services Division and Employee Assistance Progamme will engage with the school to provide support to staff and students.

“The Ministry notes with great concern the events that led to this death and is hopeful that the perpetrator can be brought to justice,” the ministry said.

Noting the significant impact that this news can have on the loved ones and students of Sylvester, Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said, “We mourn as a country today. We mourn the loss of a life, of a woman, of an educator; in circumstances that are sad and distressing. It is my hope that during this period of grief the support offered can aid her loved ones in the ways they require.”

President of the International Women’s Resources Network Adriana Sandrine-Rattan said domestic violence victims often try to save the relationship and added that she heard that Sylvester was one of those.

“She was trying to save the relationship but that by themselves cannot be saved, but sometimes it reaches a point where you have to take an exit to save your life.”

Rattan said her organization has made several recommendations to the government to help victims of domestic violence, including assistance with housing.

“We recommended that the government look at low-cost housing for victims and their children because they would have reason not to stay but leave and go to the low-cost housing because most victims stay in abusive relationships because they have nowhere else to go.”