GRUESOME HOMICIDES IN ST. ANNS, CASCADE
The brutal murder of former director of the National Museum and Art Gallery Dr Claire Broadbridge at her Fondes Amandes St Ann’s home last week Saturday continues to transfix the nation as her death has sparked outrage and discussions about the perception of the Government’s inability to deal with crime in the country.
Her death triggers the grisly benchmark to the 2001 triple murder of British national John Cropper, 59; his mother-in-law Maggie Lee, 83, and sister-in-law Lynette Lithgow-Pearson, 51, a former BBC television broadcaster, at Cropper’s Mt Anne Drive, Second Avenue, Cascade home.
The St Ann’s/Cascade area has recorded more gruesome homicides that many people have forgotten about.
• Retired Neal and Massy manager Clyde Commissiong, 80, and his 79-year-old wife, Denise, were killed after robbers stormed their Riverside Road, Cascade home on January 30, 2007.
• Brentor Straker, 29, of Cascade, was shot and killed at Mt Hololo Road in St Ann’s, on May 12, 2009. Police said he had been a suspect in the murder of 34-year-old Roberta Patterson, who was found dead near a river at Fondes Amandes Road in St Ann’s, on April 29, 2009.
• Eighty-two-year-old retired businessman Ousman Ali, the founder of the Medicine Chest Pharmacy at West Mall, was strangled at his Coblentz, Cascade home on September 1, 2011.
• Timothy Clarke, 30, was shot in his bed at his Ariapita Road, St Ann’s, apartment and his girlfriend Crystal Grey sustained a gunshot wound to her leg on May 6, 2013.
• “Big Brent” Miller, 38, survived an assassination attempt while driving along St Ann’s Road around 10.30 am on August 23, 2013. He was ambushed by two gunmen who shot him in the chest, arm and lower back.
• Cascade pensioner Donaldson Mottley, 67, was found murdered at his Hislop Trace home in March 2016.
• PH taxi driver Colin “Crabby” Harewood, 35, from Casablanca Road, Cascade, was shot and killed near his home on March 22, 2016.
• Motape Hutchinson, 30, of Ariapita Road, St Ann’s, was shot to death on the roadway on August 1, 2016.
Fear among residents, the elderly at greater risk
The Guardian reported in 2012 and 2014 that residents from St Ann’s/Cascade, an area known for its lush vegetation, quiet and peaceful, had been the victims of violence, frequent robberies and home invasions.
No one is immune from the ravages of crime in the area—from large companies, small mom-and-pop establishments to individuals.A 54-year-old St Ann’s resident who was chopped about his body in a robbery in 2014 said he along with members of the St Ann’s/Cascade community were saddened by Broadbridge’s death.
He said there was a pervading fear among residents, especially among the elderly who were “jumpy” when they heard the news how Broadbridge was murdered.
The resident said that there seemed to be a trend to attack the more vulnerable and he warned his aged and retiree friends to be more careful.
After his attack he stopped wearing jewelry. But he said most of the serious crimes were committed by “outside people”.
He said a police post should be re-established by Queen’s Hall as was done in the past because when it was stationed there the incidents of break-ins were drastically reduced.
The man said when former prime minister Patrick Manning was in office, there were regular security patrols around the area and robberies were halted at the nearby shops.
He said a police presence—on foot and vehicle patrols— will reassure residents.
A local branch of a coffee shop chain, several food places and shops in the neighbourhood have all been the victims of armed holdups which included some of their customers.
Once such victim is lifestyle blogger Michelle Eng Leang who had a cutlass placed to her throat while the assailant took her cellphone and cash from her when she went to buy a juice for her son at a neighbourhood shop in St Ann’s in August.
Eng leang said “I lived in London for eight years and returned in 2011. I came out of one of the train stations affected by the bombings in July 5, 2005, and was living in east London during the acid attacks by gangs in 2011 and I did not feel as scared then as I do now.
“Since the incident I haven’t walked the street and would only go out to shop with my husband. The area has so many outdoor venues but I can’t take my son out because I’m scared.”
On Broadbridge’s murder Eng Leang asked what did the 80-year-old woman do to have her throat slit to make it so unforgivable to end her life when she was in her last glory innings.
Cascade resident Claudia Sheppard, 78, who had been living in Cascade for 50 years had her house burgled twice with six other attempts all in the same year in 2008.
The retired principal said perpetrators gained easy access from the Lady Young Road and the Morvant/Laventille area to perpetrate their crimes in Idlewild and the Cascade area.
Sheppard said two elderly residents residing in the development houses on the adjacent hillside were attacked and she knew of one resident who had his dogs poisoned.
She said the majority of these crimes were not committed by the young men from the area as she knew them all growing up as little boys.
Sheppard said they were more into PH driving, would not commit such gruesome crimes and would quicker look to protect residents.
She said areas like Knightsbridge and Idlewild in Cascade had their fair share of break-ins.
Sheppard said during the last administration when several members from the now disbanded Community Comfort Patrols (CCP) were stationed at Idlewild and did patrols in the area, incidents of break-ins and criminal activity were reduced.
She said they were a great help to the community and residents.
Sheppard said now that the patrols were removed the residents felt more vulnerable.
She said virtually every house in the area had burglar proofing and since the break-ins she had hardened her house with added security such as replacing her louvre windows with metal windows, increased the height of her wall, installed deadbolts, padlocked her garden gate and was one of the first early adopters of Blink Vigilance’s security system.
Sheppard said one resident resorted to hiring security guards, while some were forced to find other ways to protect their families and homes.
MP for Port-of-Spain North/St Ann’s West Stuart Young did not return the Sunday Guardian’s calls yesterday.