VINDRA NAIPAUL-COOLMAN was possibly alive when her killers took an electric saw and dismembered her body by cutting off her legs, arms, head, abdomen and chest, before placing the body parts in four garbage bags and disposing of it.
And although the Xtra Foods chief executive officer was “gruesomely murdered”, ransom demands for her safe release were still being made long after she was killed by her abductors who wanted money “that they did not work for by the sweat of their brow”.
So said senior counsel Israel Khan yesterday as the State delivered its opening statements at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain on day one of the trial into Naipaul-Coolman’s December 2006 murder.
Khan painted a grim picture of what the State is contending took place between December 19, when she was abducted from her Lange Park, Chaguanas, home, and when she was murdered at a house in La Puerta, Diego Martin, on December 28.
The attorney addressed the 12-member jury and six alternates for more than four hours before Justice Malcolm Holdip in the Second Criminal Court, as the State seeks to secure guilty verdicts against the 12 men charged with murdering Naipaul-Coolman.
In his address, Khan said: “... About nine days after her kidnapping, that was about three days after Christmas 2006, Mrs Vindra Naipaul-Coolman was sitting on a pool table in an unfinished red-brick house located on a hill at La Puerta, Diego Martin, late evening time.
“Her hands and feet were bound-up with silver-grey duct tape. Her mouth was also bound-up with duct tape. Blood was running down her left ‘foot’ according to ‘eye see’ witness Keon Gloster—and she was crying.
“Accused number eight, Lyndon James, also called ‘Iron’, armed with a nine millimetre black gun was demanding money from her. He was saying to her that ‘he was getting (expletive) fed up. Come carry we for the money.’ He was saying this in the presence of all the other accused men who are sitting in the dock.
“Mrs Vindra Naipaul-Coolman with her feet, hands and mouth all bound up with silver-grey duct tape just sat on that pool table crying, crying. Lyndon James shot Vindra Naipaul-Coolman in her chest from point-blank range with the nine millimetre black gun. She fell back on the table.
“Accused number one, Shervon Peters, also called Buffy, accused number three Marlon Trimmingham also called ‘Madman’ and a man called ‘Raphael’ put on whitish rubber gloves. It should be noted that ‘Raphael’ is not amongst the accused men today. He died in prison awaiting trial on this very matter.”
After shooting her, Khan said the men then took turns in cutting up Naipaul-Coolman’s body with the red-and-white power saw.
“They cut off her legs up to her belly. They cut off both arms from her shoulders. They cut off her head. They cut up her belly and chest. Her body parts were placed into black garbage bags for disposal.
“All this was done in the presence of all the men who now sit in the dock. The prosecution is unable to say whether Mrs Vindra Naipaul-Coolman was actually dead or alive when she was dismembered.
“What I can say on her behalf, whether she was dead or alive, the ancient scripture from the Holy Scrolls, “The Dhammapada” applied to her in the agonising conditions she was placed in due to no fault of her own,” said Khan.
As the case progresses, Khan told the jury they will be hearing testimony from several civilian State witnesses including Naipaul-Coolman’s husband Rennie Coolman, her daughter Risha Ali, and their live-in housekeeper Rasheedan Yacoob.
All three, he said, will testify what they witnessed on the night Naipaul-Coolman was snatched from the driveway of her Radix Road home.
He said Ali will testify that on that night she noticed lights approaching the driveway which indicated her mother had arrived home. Soon after, she heard a loud noise, which sounded as if Naipaul-Coolman’s car had hit an object in the yard, followed by yelling.
Ali, he said, will testify that she looked out a window to see what was going on and noticed there was a gold-coloured car slanted behind her mother’s vehicle.
He said Ali also noticed three men who were fully clothed in long clothing, but could not see any part of their skin and their faces were covered with masks that had holes along the eye areas.
One of the men was standing at the driver’s window of the car while another was standing at the back right-hand side of the vehicle and the third was walking at the back of the car.
“The man at her mother’s window was banging on the glass with a gun. He was shouting and yelling. The three men had guns in their hands. They were banging on her mother’s vehicle while the shouting was taking place.
“This went on for a while. Then she heard shots. One of her (Ali’s) sons woke up and she moved from the window to pick him up. She then looked back out the window and saw her mother standing in front of the doorway of her car and the man hit her with the gun on her cheek and her mother’s head went backwards.
“At that stage, she left her room and rushed to her mother’s room, holding on to her child to use the phone to call the police,” he said.
Upon returning to the window, Khan said the men had already left with Naipaul-Coolman, who had also been shot during the abduction.
Less than three hours after the abduction, Khan said Naipaul-Coolman’s family received a phone call with a male voice at the other end making a ransom demand.
He said the following morning, a ransom of $122,000 was paid, but the abductors kept calling and making further demands.
“Nine days after Vindra Naipaul-Coolman was kidnapped, no further ransom payments were forthcoming and thus she was eliminated, deliberately killed. She was murdered. And even after she was killed, attempts were being made by the caller for ransom payments,” said Khan.
The trial will resume tomorrow morning.
Justice Malcolm Holdip
Israel Khan SC
Gilbert Peterson SC
Dana Seetahal SC
Allan Martin, Shervon Peters
Anthony Dwayne Gloster