by Wade Gibbons
Seven years after allegedly kidnapping and raping a St. Michael teenager, three men remain at large after questionable investigative action by police to apprehend them.
And the female detective identified by a superior as responsible for botching the initial investigation and subsequently lying about it has escaped serious censure from the high command of the Royal Barbados Police Force. But both the mother and the now 23 year-old woman want the matter fully investigated.
Barbados TODAY investigations have revealed that on February 24, 2006 a 16-year-old student was snatched from an area off Baxters Road, St. Michael by three men in a vehicle who then took her to another location and ravished her.
The matter was subsequently reported to the police and a female constable was assigned to investigate the matter. She was given instructions on the investigation and directed to report on those instructions by May 29, 2006. She did not comply with the instructions.
On September 12, 2006, she reproduced the case file dealing with the criminal allegations and stated that the victim’s mother was not allowing her daughter to continue with the investigations because of stress and discomfort.
“I report for your information that the victim’s mother … clearly stated that she is not allowing her daughter to continue investigations into this matter since it is causing so much stress and discomfort to both … and her family. She also stated that this decision was made by … who is the victim’s father. Three visits were paid to the complainant’s residence at … but to no success. None of the parties were present. These statements are still needed to close this file,” the constable stated in her report.
She carried out no further investigations into the case. Five years elapsed and the file was discovered among a pile of other dated files and was brought to the attention of the officer in charge of the Criminal Investigation Department at the time, senior superintendent Haschel Bynoe, now retired.
He immediately contacted the victim and her mother and both denied they had told the investigator they were dropping the case. Indeed, the victim indicated that since making the initial report to the constable, she had never seen her again.
The victim’s mother indicated to the police in a statement that: “Since our initial report, I did not hear anything from the police until sometime last month, March 2011. At no time between 2006 and March 2011 did I tell the police or constable … that we were not interested in continuing with this matter. I still want the police investigate this matter, I don’t want it swept under the carpet.”
When interviewed by Bynoe, the constable claimed that she had spoken to the victim’s mother on “numerous occasions” and she had said she was not going through with the matter and was not desirous of giving any more statements. Five years earlier the same constable had written that she paid visits to the victim’s home and never found any of the parties there.
The head of the CID then reported the matter to Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin and Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police Seymour Cumberbatch for their consideration and action to be taken against the officer.
“The actions by constable … leaves much to be desired and strikes at the core of what the Royal Barbados Police Force has as its motto — to serve, protect and reassure,” the now retired officer said.
He added: “This is a deliberate and callous act by constable … who stated a falsehood in saying that the victim’s mother said that she was not desirous of having the matter investigated and that it was causing stress and discomfort to her daughter and she refused to give an additional statement stating this.
“This is an embarrassment to the force. From all indications it is apparent that this constable cannot be trusted to carry out investigations into matters reported and raises concerns about her integrity.”
Bynoe highlighted a number of instructions with which the constable did not comply, which might have assisted in apprehending the accused men whom the victim had said she could identify.
He noted that:
* The victim did not see the album [of previous offenders];
* There was no mention of acquiring the victim’s clothing worn at the time of the offences for possible harvesting of trace evidence;
* No opportunity was given to the victim to sit with a forensic artist to have a composite of the suspects done;
* No statements were taken from the victim’s parents who collected her after the assault and would have been in a position to give evidence of first complaint after a sexual attack; and
* No canvass of the area where the girl was abandoned was done on the day of the offence.
Following Bynoe’s rebuke of the investigator and recommendations that she be severely disciplined, the investigation was taken from him and given to an officer junior to him in rank, who subsequently recommended that “no disciplinary action is taken against constable …” and that she be warned only for tardy re-submission of the file dealing with the kidnap/rape victim.
In this second report it was stated: “The character of the victim and her family is questionable.” The mother of the victim is a vendor and the father has had previous brushes with the law.
On July 29, 2011, on behalf of Commissioner Dottin, Acting DCP Cumberbatch issued the detective with an official warning for neglect of duty, namely failing to resubmit the case file in a timely manner.
No action was taken for stating a falsehood and failing to properly investigate the victim’s report as indicated by Bynoe.
The three alleged assailants have never been apprehended and the officer remained a member of the CID. [email protected]
by Wade Gibbons