CAN'T FORGET: Shanti Sonnylal has a picture of her son Manohar Sonnylal among the images of the Hindu incarnations of God in the family prayer room at Barrackpore. Manohar Sonnylal was killed in a crash three years ago. PHOTO by DAVE PERSAD

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Family wants justice

...Officer no-show; case thrown out

By Nikita Braxton-Benjamin nikita.braxton@trinidadexpress.com

IT has been three years since Manohar Sonnylal was killed in a car crash, but the mere mention of his name still causes his relatives to weep.

Pictures of Sonnylal are among images of Hindu incarnations of God in the family’s temple, and prayers are offered for him daily.

The family expected that justice for Sonnylal’s death would come through the court.

Their hopes were dashed last Friday after the police officer, who charged the driver with causing the crash that killed Sonnylal, failed again to show up in the Princes Town Magistrates’ Court.

As a result, the magistrate ruled that the charge against defendant Timothy De Leon—that he caused Sonnylal’s death by dangerous driving in 2010—be discharged.

The ruling was made after the police said they were unsure at which station the officer was now attached, and that the file in the case was still with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

“It seems that the State is not ready to carry out this matter. Their conduct is unacceptable,” Magistrate Debra Quintyne said.

Family members were left in shock.

“How come he (the officer) didn’t know he had to come to court on that day? He could have written down the day or put it on his phone,” said Sonnylal’s sister, Savitri Sankar, yesterday.

“I didn’t like that...The police need to do their job better,” said Sonnylal’s mother, Shanti Sonnylal, 55, as she sat in a hammock at the family home at Rochard Road, Barrackpore.

She said that State witnesses always attended court ready to testify. She wiped her eyes with her shirt as she spoke.

Her two daughters, Sankar, 33, and Chrissy Tom, 22, were nearby.

Sonnylal, 33, was the second of her eight children.

The mother remembered cooking roti and tomato choka for Manohar Sonnylal and his brother Kesraj early that Sunday morning.

Sonnylal had told her the night before that he and his brother would purchase breakfast but she was up early the next day packing the meal for her sons.

Hours later a neighbour came to her home and told the family that both men were in an accident.

On September 26, 2010, the brothers were heading home from work at a housing project in Golconda when their Nissan was struck by a car at Rochard Douglas Road, Barrackpore.

The occupants of that car escaped with minor injuries. 

Paramedics took the brothers to the hospital. Kesraj Sonnylal seemed to have sustained the most serious injuries.

Manohar Sonnylal, who was in the passenger seat, suffered a cut to the forehead.

But at the hospital, doctors said he suffered massive internal injuries, had a 50/50 chance of surviving and needed ten pints of blood. He was operated on the same day. Days later he was again in the operating room.

Manohar Sonnylal became a patient in the intensive care unit (ICU) and the family prayed.

They kept his condition from his brother, who was then 21 years old.

But two weeks after the crash, Kesraj  Sonnylal was placed in a wheelchair and taken to see his brother.

He was Manohar’s last visitor.

It took Kesraj Sonnylal nine months to mend. His shattered right ankle had to be reconstructed and steel was inserted into the ring finger of his right hand. He also had injuries to his chest.

He has resumed work with the same company he and his brother were employed with back in 2010. 

It is all part of the family’s attempt to move on.

“We try not to think about it. I cry every time I study it,” Sankar said.

However, they cannot forget Sonnylal, who was working toward building a house close to his parents and siblings and planned to get married shortly after.

“We pray for him that he is with God,” said sister Savitri Sankar.

The Express was told that the policeman who failed to attend court could face disciplinary action.

The DPP also has the option of re-laying the charge against the man. If this happens, he could be served with a summons to attend court, the charge will be re-read to him and the process before the court will be restarted.

 
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