Key suspect in teacher’s killing held

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Kescia Branche

…DNA sample to be sent overseas for analysis

POLICE are currently questioning another suspect in relation to the death of Richard Ishmael Secondary School teacher, Kescia Branche, Acting Police Commissioner, David Ramnarine has said.

According to Ramnarine, the suspect was overseas when the investigation began. “…The good news is that a suspect who had gone overseas has returned and we are doing some further investigative work,” said Ramnarine. The unidentified suspect had reportedly left the country the day Branche was found battered in the City. The mother of one, who resided in Cummings Lodge, Greater Georgetown, was last seen on November 4, when she left for a night out with her friends.

However, her unconscious body was found in the vicinity of Princes Street and Louisa Row, Georgetown, the following day. Her left leg was broken and there was evidence that she’d sustained multiple head injuries. Meanwhile, Ramnarine disclosed that samples will soon be sent overseas for DNA testing. “The sample has not been sent as yet but will be sent soon,” the acting Police Commissioner stated.

Earlier this month, three suspects who were being questioned regarding the death of Branche, were released. The father of Branche’s three-year-old son was released on November 14 and placed on station bail, along with two police constables. The two policemen were placed under open arrest and will be working out of the Tactical Services Unit (TSU).

At the time of the trio’s release, police were seeking to contact a taxi driver whose cell phone number appeared repeatedly on Branche’s mobile device. The taxi driver’s car was impounded at the Brickdam Police Station and he had reportedly left the country after Branche was found with a broken leg and in an unconscious state on November 5.

Investigators are of the opinion that the driver may have been the last person to see the teacher alive. It is unclear whether the taxi driver is the same person currently being questioned by law enforcement officers. The Richard Ishmael Secondary School teacher died at the Georgetown Public Hospital two days after being found battered in the City. A post-mortem indicated that she died as a result of brain haemorrhage.

Meanwhile, Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, told reporters Wednesday that efforts are being made to have the country’s DNA testing facility up and running sometime next year. According to Ramjattan, with the new budgetary allocation for the venting system and the Citizens Security project, the capacity for DNA testing will become a reality.

Noting that the United States Embassy is assisting government in this regard, the minister said it is critical that the requisite physical infrastructure be put in place to ensure that the integrity of the samples is protected. “…You don’t want DNA to be mixed up and of course the training of these people who are going to do the testing [is important],” said Ramjattan, who noted that in the interim, overseas options have to be utilised.

“I really felt that by this time we would have been completed, but as I have said, democracy is a lot of bureaucracy and sometimes you don’t get your way because of other important players that indicate that these are the things you have to get,” he stated while stressing that he really wanted DNA testing to be available here by year end.

This he said would not happen because the air ventilation and Air Conditioning are critical to ensuring the proper preservation of samples. Though the National Forensic Laboratory is working, it is not yet fully staffed, but Ramjattan noted that there is going to be place for more persons, while noting that as equipment is procured and the infrastructural work completed, DNA specialists will be recruited.

At the moment, forged documents, counterfeiting and the testing of narcotics, among other areas, are areas covered by the Laboratory.