Ricketts slips on timeline

| 11/02/2010

(CNS): Despite the confession statement thathe gave to the police on 27 October 2008, the day after his arrest for the murder of Estella Scott-Roberts, Larry Prinston Ricketts (left) took the witness stand on Wednesday morning and denied everything. However, during the cross examination by Solicitor General Cheryll Richards QC on behalf of the crown, Ricketts said he had first learned of the murder at his workplace when people were talking about the burned out car on the morning of Saturday 11 October. The deceased’s vehicle was not found until around lunchtime of that same day.

Ricketts had taken the stand during the voir dire last week when his defence counsel sought to have the confession ruled inadmissible as Ricketts had claimed the confession was made up by the police and he was coerced into signing it. At that time he was questioned only by his own attorney, Robert Fortune QC and the solicitor general, mostly on why, when he claimed he had not made the statement, he would sign it.

However, when the accused man took the stand on Wednesday morning following his evidence in chief, he was crossed examined by Bourne for the first time and was also questioned in far more detail by the solicitor general on his activities on the Friday evening and the Saturday morning – before, during and after the murder.

Taking the stand around 10:30, Ricketts told the court that on Friday 10 October 2008 he had gone to Royal Palms alone at around 8 o’clock, had a few drinks and then had returned to his home on Walkers Road around 10:30pm, where he went to bed and woke up in the morning at around 5:30am and got ready to go to work. He said that on his way to work, as he reached central George Town, he ran into Kirkland Henry, who asked him to help him get money from an ATM with a bank card he had found. Ricketts said he tried to assist his friend at two machines but was unable to help, so he left and went to work.

Ricketts claimed to know nothing about the crime and denied being with Henry or abducting, raping or murdering Estella Scott-Roberts. He said he had what turned out to be her BlackBerry phone because he bought it from Henry for $200 and he had no idea where Henry had got it from.

When Bourne began probing the plausibility of Ricketts’ claims and the number of coincidences surrounding his version of events, Ricketts continued to deny that he had anything to do with the crime. Facing questions about phone calls that night between himself and Henry and the details of the confession, which Bourne noted only a person who was at the scene of the crime could have known, Ricketts continued to say he was not with Henry and he was not involved.

Acknowledging that Ricketts’ evidence was that the “dishonest police officers” had made up his confession, Bourne asked how they could have made up the things that only those present at the crime would know, things that Henry had, at that point, not yet told the police. He asked how the officers were able to make up the part about Ricketts finding a plastic garbage bag in the car which was used to suffocate the deceased when they did not know then that was how she was killed.

Ricketts said the officers were making assumptions about what they thought had happened to the lady. “I never knew anything about it,” Ricketts told the court. When Bourne probed further about the details of Ricketts’ confession regarding how Henry had pulled the deceased from the driver’s seat in to the back of the car because Ricketts had lowered the seat all the way back at the time of her abduction, Ricketts still denied being there. “They were professional officers, doing their work,” Rickets claimed. “They made this up.”

Bourne also asked how the police had written down that Ricketts knew that Scott-Roberts had claimed to have two children in order to try and save her life — although she did not have children — when those officers had no idea that Henry had also revealed this in his confession.

“I don’t know,” Rickets said. “It’s because you were there, isn’t it?” Bourne asked. “No sir,” the defendant replied.

Following the grilling by Bourne, Ricketts continued to claim his statement was concocted by the police when the Solicitor General began her cross examination. She established that Ricketts had travelled on the bus along the West Bay Road as many as twelve times per week during the six months before the murder, but still insisted he did not know where Deckers’ Restaurant or Buckingham Square were and had never seen the signs.

She too probed Ricketts about a 2:00am phone call that he had received from Henry. Ricketts claimed he couldn’t remember what it was about and didn’t ask Henry why he had called him in the middle of the night when they met by coincidence the following morning around 6:00am. She questioned Ricketts about the card, the phones and the laptop that Henry had, and when he had discoveredthey were connected to the murder, but Ricketts indicated he was not sure when he realized or what he thought about it.

However, when Richards pushed Ricketts on when it was that he learned that a lady had been murdered, he said that when he went to work on Saturday morning (11 October) after he left Henry, the people at the work site at Dive Tech on North West point were talking about a burned out car with a body found at Barkers. However, Scott-Roberts’ car was not discovered until around lunchtime on that same Saturday.

The solicitor general asked him if he had expected to get money from Henry if they had successfully taken cash from the ATM, which he said he did. “So you are the kind of person who engages in wrong doing if it will benefit you?” Richards asked. After a pause Rickets said, “Yes ma’am”.

Ricketts will return to the stand for further cross examination on Thursday morning.

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