Four days after it was disclosed in an article in the Sunday Express that he was the personal security guard of a LifeSport director, 42-year-old Curtis Gibson was shot dead at his Malabar home yesterday.
Gibson, who was also known as “Tallman”, was the bodyguard of LifeSport’s Deputy Director of Physical Education and Sport at the Ministry of Sport, Ruth Marchan.
Marchan had hired Gibson as her bodyguard after she went public with a threat on her life and that of two senior officials at the Ministry of Sport following the suspension of the LifeSport programme to facilitate an audit by the Ministry of Finance.
At 8 a.m. yesterday, Marchan contacted Express’ investigative journalist Asha Javeed and stated: “Remember Tallman who was in the interview (with the Sunday Express)? The Imam’s son? Well they gunned him down this morning. This getting serious.”
Marchan said Gibson had links to the Carapo base of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen who were beneficiaries of the LifeSport programme.
She is now more fearful for her life.
“They come for him early this morning. Burst down his door. This is breaking news,” she said.
The Express understands that she has contacted several Government officials to help protect her.
Police sources maintained yesterday that the information they received was that Gibson was employed at the Public Transport Service Commission (PTSC), Port of Spain. However, they did not denounce the possibility that he may have been secretly employed as a security officer, and they were in the process of looking at all leads in their investigations.
According to police reports, at about 1.15 a.m. yesterday, Gibson was asleep with his pregnant wife at their home along Pomegranate Avenue in Malabar, when they were both awakened by a crashing noise. Police said when Gibson’s wife looked to the door of the bedroom, she observed a man armed with a firearm standing in the archway. Without warning the assailant raised his weapon and pointed it at Gibson and pulled the trigger, hitting the 42-year-old man about his body several times.
As quickly as he came, the assailant then fled the scene on foot, leaving Gibson’s wife uninjured, but next to the bloodied body of her husband.
The police and emergency health services were notified and Gibson was pronounced dead on the scene.
A party of officers from the Northern Division and the Homicide Bureau of Investigations visited the scene, and Gibson’s body was ordered removed by a District Medical Officer.
In an article published in the Sunday Express of June 22 titled “Loans for Criminals”, Gibson was mentioned by his nickname and had sat through the latter half of an interview Javeed had conducted with Marchan.
In the story, Marchan had identified “Tallman” as her security guard, and noted he was the son of an Imam, who is a member of the Jamaat-al- Muslimeen.
Marchan had also given the Sunday Express a series of text messages, dated February, March and April 2014, which she said was evidence there was a conspiracy to leak information from the Ministry. In these messages, “Tallman” was also mentioned.
One text read: “The Muslims killing the programme. Time has passed for their usefulness, since after the march last year. Need a solution.”
Another read: “Sending docs for u later. Depending on you and your friends. More to come.”
Another said: “Need help with situation with Ruth and Tallman URGENTLY!!!”
During the TV6 news last night, Gibson’s wife was quoted as saying that her deceased partner had received two threatening phone calls last week.
She said she could only scream in terror yesterday morning as Gibson’s killer made good on those threats and shot him several times in his stomach and side.
Gibson’s murder has pushed the murder toll to 208 compared with 180 at June 26 last year.
LifeSport was a brainchild of Sport Minister Anil Roberts.
It is one of the Government’s most expensive social programmes which was designed to target criminals.
The programme, which was started in 2012, had a budget of $6,647,000.
LifeSport pays $1,500 a month to “criminal elements” to get them interested in sports. A daily meal allowance of $75 is catered for but a contract is usually given to a catering company to provide meals for the participants.
According to Ministry of Sport officials, the programme is supposed to exist in 33 centres and have 60 people. A stipend is paid to the participants of the programme and an allowance paid to a coordinator of the programme.
The funding and recipients of LifeSport were identified in an investigative series by the Express newspapers. Following the stories, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar directed Finance Minister Larry Howai to initiate an audit into the programme and transferred it out of Sport to the Ministry of National Security. National Security Minister Gary Griffith said LifeSport will now be directed by the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force.
For 2014, the Government has already spent just over $267 million on the LifeSport programme.
According to the Draft Estimates of Recurrent Expenditure for the Financial Year 2014, an estimated $113,502,273 was transferred to the LifeSport under the heading Pathway Programme.
The loan for the LifeSport programme was taken by the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago (Sportt).
Under the heading “Transfers to State Enterprises”, $154,133,000 was transferred to the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago (Sportt) for “Repayment of TT$77.2 million loan re: Pathway Programme”.
That would take the total sum transferred to LifeSport in 2014 to $267 million.