Trinidad and Tobago
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Tobago man freed of teen’s stabbing on appeal

Jada Loutoo File photo -
File photo -

A Tobago man who was jailed for the unlawful killing (manslaughter) of a teenager in 2010, has been freed by the Court of Appeal after prosecutors conceded his appeal.

No retrial was ordered for Robert Greene since assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal said she was not pursuing one since the evidence in the case was not strong enough for her to ask for one.

Greene and another man, Hakeem Joseph, both of Darrell Spring, Scarborough, were charged with the murder of 17-year-old student Zach Seeram. On September 1, 2010, the teenager was stabbed when he intervened and attempted to part a fight by throwing bottles at one of the men. He was pursued into a mall and stabbed by his assailant.

Seeram died seven days after he was first treated for the stab wounds he received on September 1, 2010, and after returning to the Scarborough General Hospital on three separate occasions during that week.

A post-mortem concluded that he died from stab wounds, two of which caused severe injuries that resulted in his death.

A stab wound to his lower back injured his left diaphragm and his left lung causing a collapse of the lung, and a wound to his abdomen penetrated the right diaphragm, liver and kidney.

The injuries had not been discovered by the attending physicians despite Seeram having visited the hospital on three separate occasions.

In October 2017, Justice Frank Seepersad found the Tobago Regional Health Authority culpable in Seeram’s death and in 2019, the health authority was ordered by a master to compensate the teen’s mother in the sum of $155,000 for the “systemic and administrative failures” that led to the death of the Scarborough Secondary School student.

Greene and Joseph were initially freed after a preliminary inquiry but were recharged and put on trial for the crime in October 2016.

Joseph was discharged by Justice David Harris, who ruled there was insufficient evidence linking him to the crime. Greene was eventually freed of murder but convicted of the lesser offence of manslaughter and sentenced to serve time.

At his appeal, Greene complained of the errors of the judge in his directions to the jury and that the sentence was too excessive. He was sentenced to 20 years from which the six years he spent on remand were deducted, leaving him to serve a 14-year sentence.

Greene also insisted he did not cause Seeram’s death but that it was the negligence of the hospital that did.

After conceding the appeal, Justices Prakash Moosai, Charmaine Pemberton and Gillian Lucky commended Dougdeen-Jaglal for her position and also lauded Greene’s attorney Renuka Rambhajan and the prosecutor for the quality of work they presented to the court.