Saturday, January 20, 2018

Prisoner dies after alleged escape attempt

Prison authorities: We had to use force to subdue him


‘THEIR STORY DOESN’T MAKE SENSE’: Grieving mom Veena Abdool.

Mark Fraser


‘MARKS OF VIOLENCE’: Steven Abdool

Mark Fraser

A CLAXTON Bay mother wants the truth on how her murder accused son ended up dead at hospital after being accused of attempting to escape from Golden Grove Prison, Arouca on Wednesday.

Veena Abdool, 41, of Pranz Gardens, said she was informed that her son, Steven Abdool, 22, was beaten brutally at the hands of prison officers.

The Prison Service confirmed that Steven Abdool suffered injuries when he was caught by prisoners and tried to fight back.

A grieving Abdool told the Express yesterday: “I am son was not supposed to die like this. Up until now, no one from the prison has contacted me to say he is dead. I had to find out for myself. This is not right.” 

Steven Abdool was awaiting trial in the High Court for the murder of security guard Holly Matthews. 

Matthews, 47, who was employed with Pentagon Security Services, was shot dead on August 6, 2011, while on duty at Park View Supermarket at SS Erin Road, Palmiste, near San Fernando. 

Steven Abdool was 19 years old when he was charged and appeared in court for Matthews’ murder. 

Veena Abdool said she was told her son was accused of being caught attempting to escape from the Remand section of Golden Grove Prison. 

“I don’t believe that because he was never a trouble-maker in prison. They said that he and another person were trying to cut the bars and the fence of the prison to break out. But their story does not make sense,” she said. 

Abdool said she received a call on her cell phone at around 2.15 a.m. Wednesday from an inmate at the prison.

“I was told that Steven and another prisoner were stripped and beaten. I heard he was bawling and screaming for help. The prisoner told me blood was coming out of nose, mouth, and ears. I got another phone call at around 8 a.m. from a prisoner who said Steven was taken to Mount Hope hospital. I went to the hospital and, at the ward, the prison officers said I could not see my son,” said the mother. 

Abdool said she was given a phone number by the prison officers who advised her to seek permission to see her son.

She said she left the hospital and went to attorney Ainsley Lucky seeking advice.

Abdool said after calling the phone number several times, Lucky learnt that her son was undergoing surgery at Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex.

 Later that afternoon, Abdool said she received another phone call informing her that her son had died. 

“I went to the mortuary the next day and I saw his body had marks of violence on his face, chest, neck, hands. There was blood stains on his mouth, ears and nose,” she said.

“That is murder and someone has to answer for it.” 

In response, Wendell Bompart, head of communications of the Trinidad and Tobago Prisons Service, said Steven Abdool and another inmate were caught attempting to escape from the Remand Facility of Golden Grove.

“They attacked the officers who found them and a struggle ensued. We have a policy called the ‘Use of Force’ policy, in which force can be used on a prisoner who is not yielding to instructions. So force was used, and afterwards the inmates were taken to the Arima Health Facility, and then transferred to the Mt Hope medical facility,” said Bompart. 

Bompart said Commissioner of Prisons Martin Martinez had appointed an officer to investigate the case, and an investigation was also being carried out by officers of Arima Police Station. 

“These are dangerous inmates who had weapons. This is why the prison officers had to use force to subdue them. We have a responsibility to keep and hold all inmates,” said Bompart.

He added that the prison officers who subdued the prisoners who attempted to escape were injured and were treated at the prison infirmary for their injuries. 

An autopsy of Steven Abdool is expected to be conducted on Monday.