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CID closing in on outstanding murder cases

Supt Esau Pierre – the new head of the Criminal Investigations Department

Less than two weeks after making changes within the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF), the lawmen are beginning to see some success in solving a number of murder cases on the island.

The combination of Superintendent Esau Pierre and Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Ryan Hall has resulted in the arrest of two of the murder suspects – Kemo Coutain for the murder of Troy Daniel of St Paul’s and Shaka Aaron Croney for the murder in Telescope of popular school teacher, Kendon Berkeley.

The newly created team is confident of making significant in-roads into two of the recent murders – LGBT member Josiah “Jonty” Robinson whose body was found in June on the BBC beach and Monday’s execution-style killing of suspected drug lord 52-year old Vincentian national Dexter Chance.

Sources told THE NEW TODAY that the CID are currently working on leads in the murder of Chance and believe that a local is deeply involved in the killing.

Detectives are believed to be analyzing messages on the cellphone within the hours leading up to the shooting-to-death incident outside of his business place at Woburn.

An eyewitness reported seeing two masked men with guns in hand running in a particular direction around the time of the murder.

Daniel, known in the village as “Ranking” was killed less than 48-hours before Chance was gunned down in a hail of bullets while sitting in his vehicle.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Supt Pierre did not rule out the possibility of cross-border criminal activities with regards to the murder of Chance whose name has been called with the recent executions of five persons in St Vincent.

“Because Grenada has porous borders, one can never eliminate the possibilities and movement of persons connected to the underworld,” said the senior police officers in the wake of charges that the shooting could be the work of professional killers from St Vincent.

“And as such, we will always up our guard … with respect to cross border criminality. With respect to this particular case, we continue our investigations and we will determine where the assailants originated from but our investigations…I cannot at this stage venture to say whether it is local or regional, but it is a concern for us where the criminality is imported and like the firearms, firearms are imported,” he remarked.

Chance was among four men facing drug charges, associated with the seizure of EC$4 million worth of cocaine in August 2019.

Law enforcement officers at that time believed that Chance’s arrest was instrumental in dismantling a major drug ring operating in the Caribbean.

However, in a surprising twist in the case, he was acquitted of the charges in July last year after a jury unanimously returned a verdict of not guilty, leaving behind a trail of unanswered questions.

Chance’s execution occurred nearly two (2) days after the shooting death of well-known landscaper ‘Ranking’ who was found lying along St. Paul’s public road on Saturday.

Within hours, police arrested 29-year old Kemo Coutain, the son of an Inspector of Police attached to CID for questioning in connection with the murder.

Coutain is the lover of Ranking’s sister and the two had a fall-out minutes before the deadly shooting.

The sister has reportedly told close associates that she was getting ready to fly out to England and Coutain was against her leaving the country.

There are reports that the murder suspect and another man came to her home and shortly afterwards a confrontation took place and the woman called her brother who came onto the scene.

Coutain made his first appearance Wednesday before Chief Magistrate Francine Foster at the St. George’s No.1 Magistrate’s Court and was remanded to the Richmond Hill prison.

When questioned at a press conference in St. George’s on Tuesday, Supt Pierre in answering a question from a reporter revealed that the firearm linked to the St Paul’s incident had been recovered.

There have been reports circulating in the country that the gun used to commit the crime might be the one assigned to his father by RGPF.

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Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Vannie Curwen who also addressed reporters expressed hope for more breakthroughs in the recent criminal activities on the island by lawmen, highlighting the active efforts of law enforcement in solving outstanding homicide cases.

This is an obvious reference to the murder of 30-year-old Delvon Thomas, who lost his life on Carnival Monday in August in a shooting incident in Egmont, St. George.

Thomas fell victim to a gunshot to the head as gunmen reportedly stormed a house owned by mas’ band leader Linton Wharwood, who was also injured in the incident.

The Trinidad Express newspaper claimed that the Egmont incident was “collateral damage” in a hit ordered by an incarcerated gang leader from neighbouring Trinidad, targeting another Trinidadian resident of Europe who was visiting Wharwood’s home during the festive season.

CID officers have rifled through CCTV footage and did not see any such person leaving the home as alleged by the newspaper report.

According to ACP Curwen, the arrest and charging of 22-year-old Woburn resident Yohance Charles for Abetment to Commit Capital Murder and Abetment to Attempt to Commit Capital Murder in the Egmont shooting is a significant step in the investigation.

However, he said, the fact that the main perpetrator(s) remain at large is a concerning challenge, emphasising the determination of law enforcement not to rest until all those involved in the murder and other outstanding cases are brought to justice.

“We are not satisfied that all of the participants in this crime have been brought to justice… so, we continue to work (on) this matter, and we will not rest until we get to the bottom of not only this matter, but all of the other outstanding matters that we are currently investigating,” ACP Curwen told reporters.

During interrogation by detectives, Charles told lawmen that the shooting at Egmont involved two professional killers from Trinidad who came into the island secretly through Woburn and was staying in a house in the area where they finalised the raid into Wharwood’s home.

ACP Curwen revealed that as of September 11, Grenada recorded 17 homicides for the year and that a total of 11 cases have been solved.

He assured the public that the RGPF is continuing to work assiduously to bring closure to those that are outstanding.

“Recognizing the fact that we have been experiencing unprecedented gun crimes and a rising murder rate, we have strengthened our Criminal Investigations Department at different levels to ensure that we get ahead of the criminal activities in the country and maintain the peace and tranquility that we are known for,” he said.

Curwen pointed out that the decision to send Supt Pierre back to CID was done in order to free up other senior investigators to focus primarily on the unsolved murders and to address the issues of unlicensed firearms in the country.

“This decision has immediately yielded successes and has given us an advantage in the fight against criminal activities,” he remarked.

In an update on the May 2 murder of another suspected drug dealer and political activist with the main opposition New National Party (NNP) Randy McIntosh, ACP Curwen pointed out that the suspect Dwayne McDonald is still at large but as far as RGPF is concerned this is a closed matter as a particular suspect has been positively identified although an arrest has not yet been made.

Grenada has officially alerted the Regional Security System (RSS) about the hunt for McDonald which is expected to attract the attention of Interpol.

ACP Curwen admitted that there has been public participation in helping RGPF to solve the recent murders and other criminal activities.

He said: “Very seldom police solve matters by themselves. The assistance of the public has always been a part of what we do, we continue to encourage it. We look forward to it and we continue to extend our partnership with members.”

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