It was one of the most gruesome murders in Trinidad and Tobago.
Not only did they kill their victim, but they cut off the man’s head, placed it in a whisky box, and disposed of the body somewhere else.
That was the murder of Thackoor Boodram, brother of executed killer Dole Chadee.
Well, on Wednesday, the ten men convicted of the murder of Boodram, lost their appeals and they were sent back to prison.
So why was Boodram killed?
Apart from the facts of the case, inside sources said Boodram, a farmer, was an innocent casualty of his brother’s life of crime.
When Chadee ordered the murder of State witness Clint Huggins in early 1996, he had offered $3 million to the persons who carried out the act. Well, Chadee did not pay the $3 million as he was eventually convicted of the murders of four members of a Williamsville family.
But the Huggins’ killers were demanding the money, so a group of men got together and kidnapped Boodram and demanded a $5 million ransom. Chadee stood his ground and refused to pay.
The Boodram kidnappers, realizing that no money was forthcoming, killed Boodram, cut off his head and placed it in a whiskey box at the Caroni Cremation Site, and dumped his body in east Trinidad.
Eventually, police rounded up a group of men and charged them with Boodram’s murder.
They were convicted of murder and sentenced to death. They appealed and on Wednesday most their appeals before Justices Alice Yorke-Soo Hon, Rajendra Narine and Prakash Moosai.
The ten men contended that their convictions, which were based on the testimony of Junior Grandison, the State’s main witness at trial, were unsafe and should be overturned.
They had convinced former president Anthony Carmona to send their case back to the Appeal Court to consider Grandison’s about-turn in a statutory declaration, made on June 1, 2011, in which he claimed he had lied under oath, and that the evidence he gave at the trial was false and did not represent the truth.
Grandison was the main witness in the trial of Michael “Rat” Maharaj, Samuel Maharaj, Damian “Tommy” Ramiah, Bobby Ramiah, Seenath “Farmer” Ramiah, Daniel “Fella” Gopaul, Richard Huggins, Leslie Huggins, Mark “Bico” Jaikaran and Junior “Heads” Phillips.
The ten were convicted on August 7, 2001, after a trial which lasted 33 days. They lost their appeals but escaped the hangman’s noose because of the delay in hearing their appeals at the Privy Council. Their sentences were commuted to life imprisonment.
Despite attempts by the State and subpoenas issued by the court compelling his attendance in court, Grandison never showed up.
In their 70-page written decision, the judges said they were satisfied that the evidence presented to them at the appeal did not justify disturbing the conviction.
Grandison gave statements to the police in 1998, implicating nine of the ten men in Boodram’s kidnapping and murder. They also said those statements were consistent with his trial testimony in 2001.
“That evidence was tested at trial and accepted by the jury. The circumstances surrounding his statutory declaration retracting his trial testimony ten years later, and the fact that we were unable to assess him in person on this matter, have no impact on the validity of his trial testimony.”
The judges also pointed out that Hailie Amoroso also gave independent evidence implicating Phillip, and identifying him as the principal in Boodram’s murder.
They said there was also Phillip’s confession, and the evidence of another witness linking Phillip and Leslie Huggins to the others in the plan to kidnap and kill.
“When all of this evidence is taken into account, the State’s case against the appellants could not fairly be described as tenuous or uncertain,” the judges said.
Boodram was kidnapped and beheaded in 1997.