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DNA may have been lost

Gloves found in La Puerta left on police station shelf for a year before testing

By Rickie Ramdass rickie.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

Port of Spain

THERE is the possibility any deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that may have been on a pair of rubber gloves found in La Puerta, Diego Martin, in 2007 has been destroyed, as the gloves were left on a shelf at Arouca Police Station for more than a year before being sent for testing.
Jurors in the Vindra Naipaul-Coolman murder trial were told this yesterday.
Police Supt John Frederick, under cross-examination by attorney Mario Merritt, agreed the gloves should have been kept in a refrigerator of some sort to preserve any DNA, as warmer temperature could negatively affect it.
In his testimony before Justice Malcolm Holdip in the Second Criminal Court of the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain, Frederick said the blue and white rubber gloves were found under a large tree in a hilly and forested area on January 6, 2007.
At the time of the discovery, police were continuing their investigations into the kidnapping of Naipaul-Coolman, who was abducted from the driveway of her Radix Road, Lange Park, Chaguanas, home on the night of December 19, 2006.
Close to the gloves was a black ski mask and two cigarette butts, said Frede­rick. Those items were also collected, secured in police evidence bags and taken to the property room of the Arouca station.
In July 2008, the items were handed over to officer Michael Molding of the Special Anti-Crime Unit of Trinidad and Tobago (SAUTT) for testing, Frederick said.
In his experience as a crime-scene investigator, the officer said fingerprint impressions of the person who wore the rubber gloves may have been transferred to the inner tips of it.
He said it is customary for the finger tips to be cut from the rest of the gloves and tested for these prints and, in this instance, it had in fact been done.
Questioned by Merritt on the results of the tests, Frederick said he did not have the certificate of analysis outlining the results and, as such, was unable to say if any DNA or fingerprint impressions were found.
Under cross-examination by defence attorney Wayne Sturge, Frederick said when the gloves were found there were twigs and other small pieces of debris on top of them.
Sturge questioned the officer on whether those pieces of debris were moist as a result of night dew, but Frede­rick said he did not examine the gloves.
He however agreed moisture could result in the growth of mould on an item, which may negatively affect the results of any DNA tests done on that item.

Vindra Naipaul-Coolman was chief executive officer of Xtra Foods Supermarket at Grand Bazaar, Valsayn, at the time of her abduction. The day after the kidnapping, a ransom payment of $122,000 was made, but she was never freed nor was her body found.
Twelve men from La Puerta, Diego Martin, are currently charged with her murder. None of them has been charged with the kidnapping.
The trial will resume this morni­ng.
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