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Woman on trial for murder after 18 years

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Eighteen years after a man was found dead with a broken neck on his bed, his niece-in-law has gone on trial charged with his murder.

Opening the State’s case against Ira Mitchell in the San Fernando Second Assizes, prosecutor Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal told the jury the main issue they will have to determine is whether the victim’s death was accidental or deliberate.

Mitchell is on trial before Justice Hayden St Clair-Douglas charged with murdering Balo Seurattan, 60, the uncle of her common-law husband Matthew.

Seurattan was found dead on his bed on January 15, 2000, with a broken neck a day after he executed a will leaving everything to Matthew.

Although the evidence in the case is circumstantial, Dougdeen-Jaglal told the jury if they follow the dots they will be able to determine whether Mitchell is guilty or not.

She said 18 years ago on January 15, the police were called to a house at Petit Cafe, Princes Town and Mitchell took them to a bedroom where they saw Seurattan’s lifeless body on the bed.

There was a cut above the victim’s right eyebrow. Mitchell and Matthew lived with Seurattan in that house.

Dougdeen-Jaglal said Mitchell was the last person to see him alive. She said Mitchell told the police Seurattan had been ailing and visited the doctor earlier in that week. Mitchell also told the police her uncle-in-law fell twice off the bed on the day he died.

Mitchell said Seurattan asked for a cup of tea, which she prepared, but when she returned to the room he was not breathing.

“She is saying it is all an accident,” Dougdeen-Jagal said. However, she said star witness forensic pathologist Hughvon Des Vignes will testify Seurattan’s injuries were “unlikely, near possible” to be sustained in a fall. She said Des Vignes will also testify that had Seurattan broken his neck he would not have been able to speak.

Dougdeen-Jaglal said the day before Seurattan died he executed a will, leaving everything for Matthew. In that will were the signatures of Justice of the Peace as well as two witnesses—Mitchell and Roy Ramlochan. She said neither the JP nor Ramlochan saw Seurattan sign the will as his signatures were already on the document when they saw it.

She said a handwriting expert said Seurattan’s signature could have been written by Matthew.

Mitchell was represented by attorney Rekha Ramjit.

The trial continues next week.


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