Facebook felon breaks out of POS prison; Live Wire investigates drama

EPL Infrafred Sauna

Well, that was bacchanal. Trinidad and Tobago was so hot yesterday even Jack Warner considered asking the US Attorney General for a plane ticket.

At around noon yesterday, Port of Spain inmate Hassan Atwell and two fellow prisoners Allan “Scanny” Martin and Christopher “Monster” Selby made a daring jailbreak.

Photo: An inmate has IT issues.
Photo: An inmate has IT issues.

But first, they had to wait for the 41-year-old Atwell to update his Facebook page with the usual rant about his unwillingness to bend to the oppressive nature of incarceration and to share a “Ent! Breaking News” video.

Of course, thousands of employees across the country do not have access to Facebook at their work place. But Atwell does not seem to be a “glass half-full” kinda guy.

Maybe he wanted Skype.

Incidentally, prior to today, Atwell was not actually guilty of anything, despite spending the last 10 years in prison. Not yet anyway.

Like Warner, Atwell is fighting an extradition request from the United States. While the Chaguanas West MP was allegedly fond of shaking down television companies and World Cup bidding nations for the right to show and host football matches, Atwell’s alleged gig was kidnapping wealthy young men and demanding ransom from their relatives.

Warner remains Chaguanas West MP, holds national press conferences, routinely taunts the Attorney General and United States authorities and spends his free time sparring with international comedians. Atwell was refused bail and probably—but not certainly—has not seen HBO in a while.

Photo: Inmate Hassan Atwell shows off his suspicious fashion sense.
Photo: Inmate Hassan Atwell shows off his suspicious fashion sense.

It just goes to show that one can never be too careful in picking his or her criminal trade.

One of the three men shot and killed 27-year-old Constable Sherman Maynard, who was on guard duty outside the prison walls, during their escape in which the men were armed with guns and a grenade.

Mr Live Wire cannot confirm whether Atwell received the weapons in an email attachment.

Martin was shot dead by police at the Port of Spain General Hospital, just after 1 pm, although Atwell and Selby remain at large.

From there on, Port of Spain went into meltdown.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar told citizens that the Government was “in full control” and nobody had anything to fear “so long as I am your Prime Minister.”

Strangely, that did not help calm citizens.

Opposition Leader Keith Rowley was campaigning in south Trinidad at the time. But he did have the PNM treasurer and Port of Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee on location.

Photo: TTFA president and Port of Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee (centre) gestures to an Ecuador player while Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) has a word to her grandson before kick off of the FIFA Women's World Cup Play Off second leg on 2 December 2014. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: TTFA president and Port of Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee (centre) gestures to an Ecuador player while Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) has a word to her grandson before kick off of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Play Off second leg on 2 December 2014.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Tim Kee told the Trinidad Express that he was traumatised but assured everyone that his own security was heightened. He went on to say that it is sad when a policeman is killed and there was plenty of traffic, rumours and panic in the capital.

Mr Live Wire cannot confirm that the Express reporter replied: That’s it?! I could flipping get that on Facebook!

As always, there was plenty fodder for conspiracists.

Atwell’s brother, Hamid Ali, was charged, just hours earlier, for the murder of Dana Seetahal SC. His other brother Rajaee Ali, who is a former murder accused and contractor for the Government’s LifeSport programme, is already in police custody for the conspiracy to murder DJ Kevaughn “Lurbz” Savory, who is believed to have had an affair with the wife of ex-Sport Minister Anil Roberts.

Apparently, there are Gru Gru trees with less thorns than the Ali family.

Ali (R) is the son of Hassan Ali who is the Imam for the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen’s Carapo mosque and he leads prayers there himself as well.

It meant another round of questions to Imam Yasin Abu Bakr and his son Fuad Abu Bakr, the political leader of the NNV party, on whether their religious sect was housing and benefitting from crime.

Photo: NNV political leader Fuad Abu Bakr. (Copyright Orleen Orr)
Photo: NNV political leader Fuad Abu Bakr.
(Copyright Orleen Orr)

“The individuals who they say escaped from prison have been in prison for 11 or 12 years, so if they are members of anything they are members of the prison,” said Abu Bakr (F). “We know there are concerns regarding people affiliated with us. We have come here to say we have nothing to do with the criminal acts.”

Say what you like about young Abu Bakr. But don’t forget to call him a politician. He would fit in just fine in Parliament.

Of course, Government interests seem to run alarmingly close to several criminal cases at the moment, not least the Seetahal murder, which, according to the police, might have been organised by persons who were on the LifeSport payroll at the time.

Four years ago, attorney David West, who is now the PCA chairman, found it “passing strange” that then AG Anand Ramlogan did not appeal a ruling against extradition for UNC financiers Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson since Atwell was in a similar situation.

So should everyone with a criminal matter before the local courts be considered safe from extradition?

“It is passing strange that the State loses one application before a single High Court judge in a complex and highly politically charged case and deems it not fit to appeal,” said West. “An appeal is necessary to clarify this ‘grey’ area in the law…

Photo: Former Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.
Photo: Former Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.

“Two other accused persons, Hassan Atwell and Gary Govindass are also in this same predicament by having a local charge existing whilst extradition proceedings are ongoing.”

Earlier this week, Works Minister and Tabaquite MP Suruj Rambachan unveiled a $14 million State project that was completed by Galbaransingh’s Aztec Asphalt Pavers company.

Rambachan scoffed at any suggestion that maybe the Government should not be handing taxpayers’ money over to men who are hiding from the law—albeit doing so in plain sight.

“He is free to bid and tender for any project,” said Rambachan. “I don’t think the UNC should distance themselves from him at all.”

Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj, whose ministry oversaw the tendering process, sang from the same hymn sheet.

“Why should we distance ourselves? Is it that he is not allowed to do business in Trinidad?” asked Maharaj, knowing full well that Trinidad is the perfect place for men like Galbaransigh to do business.

Photo: Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan (right) shares a tender moment with UNC financier Ish Galbaransingh who is wanted for corruption by the United States Government.
Photo: Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan (right) shares a tender moment with UNC financier Ish Galbaransingh who is wanted for corruption by the United States Government.

On Friday, Atwell decided that he deserved to be free to do business too. So, he updated his Facebook page and then blasted his way out of jail, leaving a dead officer in his wake.

The media called it a “brazen” escape.

Warner and Galbaransingh, who allegedly influenced the last general election with ill-gotten money, must have read the news and shaken their heads disapprovingly, even as their attorneys continue to stave off extradition. This place gone through, oui.

Photo: Police Constable Sherman Maynard (right) who was tragically shot dead yesterday while trying to uphold law and order in Trinidad and Tobago.
Photo: Police Constable Sherman Maynard (right) who was tragically shot dead yesterday while trying to uphold law and order in Trinidad and Tobago.

Editor’s Note: Wired868 wishes to offer sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of Constable Sherman Maynard, who was tragically killed in the line of duty while trying to keep Trinidad and Tobago safe.

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  1. Well, he much smarter than you.

  2. My brain just can’t comprehend how the weapons got past the prisons officers in the first place especially as Senior Personnel knew something was going down and they beefed up security at all prisons. I’m missing something here or else i just plain stupid.

  3. As seen in this discussion, although we have a film, there are still to many unknowns for us to go off blindly casting aspersions. As a result, I believe, we should question before we accuse. That was my point from jump. Ok Lasana Liburd and Nicole Ulerie? Peace.

  4. Junior Noel the thing about this incident is the evidence becoming available to both the police and public at the same time. The questions being asked, I think, should be by any unbiased investigator. Even if it points to an angle not being explored.

  5. Two of them were in the vehicle

  6. The grenade as I understand it was thrown at the police vehicle but did not go off. You want to give people something to speculate about? Were alll police officers in the vehicle at the time the grenade was thrown?

  7. There are many unknows. Example, wasn’t a grenade found at the scene? If so, when was it thrown? How would we as “honest” people deal with a grenade thrown at us? Stand up and face it, or run? Bear in mind the word honest before we respond.

  8. He ran up the street just before the prisoners ran out, so he may have heard something.

  9. And then he didn’t just run up the street. He ran up the street, ran across the road, and then came back after all the gunfire was done… that’s what’s on the video. So suppose you hear something that makes you run up the street… you not hearing gunshots to make you run back down?

  10. It would’ve been great to have audio.

  11. And then wasn’t the vehicle moving in the video? So as soon as the vehicle stops, you jump out and run? And you supposed to be guarding the prison? The video is confusing because the actions don’t add up.

  12. I agree with you, Lasana Liburd. Nicole Philip Greene, I actually find the police officer running up the street extremely odd. If it’s serious, why not take your partner with you? Unless they are splitting up to cover different entrances or something, police officers move together. It’s unusual to split up.

  13. Because my two eyes saw a man running up the street Nicole Philip Greene. Roodal Moonilal might tell you it was a pony. What would you say then?

  14. Did the police use training? If not, then why didn’t they?
    And being scared might be a reason. But it isn’t an acceptable one. You are supposed to face scary situations from time to time if you are a police man.

  15. Nicole Philip Greene, I can point to exactly where my speculation comes from. That’s the beauty of having video. I never said I’m certain about this entire play.
    But there are some things we don’t need an independent panel to tell us. And one is the guy running up the street.

  16. Well I have an uncle, now deceased, who was a former police commissioner who could not tell me enough times that training for police officers is not what it used to be. I think he said they were trained for twice as long and couldn’t leave camp for X amount of time yadda yadda. I never really took him on because you know how old folks always think back in the day was better. But with the way things are now… I can’t help but wonder. Idk that jail breaks are/should be included in police training anywhere as police are not usually present for those events. But I would think that police officers should be trained for an ambush. But again, two/three police officers rolling around to me is not enough for how hot this country is.

  17. That is what I was getting at Chabeth Haynes.

  18. I would expect that the police should have some mechanism in their van to notify other police officers or headquarters or whoever of something. So if there are only two or three of them and there is some sound or something that is so severe to cause concern, they would be able to radio in, instead of dividing their already small numbers and going it alone at different locations.

  19. But, we continue to speculate. As a police office; I was never trained to deal with a jail break.

  20. A warning how? Assuming somebody is monitoring the cameras, and you see madness going on in the jail, you’re really studying to tell people on Frederick Street or you studying to try to secure the jail before it’s a full blown prisoners’ revolt?

  21. I, in the case of the police here, would have been expecting a warning or something, hence the reason I mention monitoring of cameras etc.

  22. Those two or three police officers sitting in a car were ill equipped to deal with a jail break. That is clear. If they were, the situation would not have become what it is. Security in general in this country is ridiculously laxed. You cannot guard something by sitting in a car. You have to stand by the exit/entrance with some big ass guns. If you are sitting in a car observing, you are staking out.

  23. Chabeth Haynes, in addition, they police were too close the exit (not enough time to effectively deal with the situation). Not enough time to have a coordinated or sensible response to the situation in my opinion.

  24. Junior Noel, deal with what is on film but then you talk about who is monitoring the cameras? Whoever it was, if it was anyone at all, isn’t on film? The police officer running away from the vehicle is on film. That’s the issue that Lasana Liburd was tackling and y’all got vex. So you want him to deal with what’s on film or you want him to deal with what you want addressed?

  25. And if you look at the video, the guy walking down the street does turn around at about the same time that the police officer runs away so who knows if there was a distraction or not. Either way, like I said in the other thread, police officers need to start moving in larger numbers. Two or three police officers sitting in a vehicle outside a jail could never constitute beefed up security. What if it had been 5 escapees instead of three? Nobody knows what’s coming… but neither the training nor the policies seems to be setting officers up to excel in their jobs. That’s not to say poor performance should be excused but rather that people can’t outperform their skills and the tools available to them.

  26. For example, who was monitoring the cameras? Isn’t it that person’s job to make an alarm at the immediate sight of trouble?

  27. In the situation presented on the film, there are many questions to be answered before even getting to the actions or lack thereof of the police here. But, it is easy to zero in on the police. Lasana Liburd deal with what is presented in the film. Don’t go jumping on your merry horse about what happened with “your” famous gang of police.

  28. I don’t think anybody is saying anybody else’s job is sacrosanct, Lasana Liburd. Think some people would just prefer an end to the speculation since we really don’t know. The guy who we are now calling the police officer who ran away/abandoned his post was previously a fourth accomplice to escape in this same thread.

  29. I believe what my eye showed me Nicole. A shot was fired and a police officer ran out a police vehicle and away from seeming danger and what appeared to be his colleague in said police vehicle

  30. Exactly Lasana Liburd. I will never understand this belief that police officer are beyond reproach.

  31. But who cares about getting the facts first. Let’s crucify them first and ask questions after.

  32. If–and I am not sure this is the case here–a policeman abandons his post and runs off at the first sign of trouble, should we run his back and give him a medal anyway?
    And then when a gang of 12 policemen descend on a two boys with one knife between them and leave no witnesses, everyone cheers and says how brave they are.
    You can’t have it both ways.
    You either did your job well. Or you didn’t.

  33. Nobody’s job is sacrosanct. I don’t believe in sacred cows.
    I say cheer the good cops and jeer the bad ones.
    You don’t have to be a past or present officer to criticize a policeman. Just like you don’t have to be a past or present journalist to criticize one.

  34. Nicholas Lochan I was once one of those you speak of. Football has me alive today from 25 years ago this week. If wasn’t football I would have been in the exact location give or take a few yards of PC Solomon McCloud on that faithful evening around 6:00 pm. So, people like Nicole can be armchair critics all they want. Who in the kitchen feels the heat! Like I said, carry on smartly.

  35. Nicholas. I’m fed up to my ears of police officers thinking they’re beyond reproach. The actions of that officer was UNACCEPTABLE and in a real country he would have been unemployed when that video footage was reviewed. But if three men with handguns are outnumbering and outrunning three police officers what exactly is the reason we even have a police service?!

  36. Actually Nicole… I’m sure you did not mean it but your previous comment did come across a bit tasteless [saving some change] esp. for those of us who have family in the Police Service & know each time they leave for work could be the last time we see them.

  37. I remember Bernadette James and Philip Salvary

  38. Never question the actions of police officers. They’re all beyond reproach and perfect in every way!! Look, hold a big long watery steups eh Junior!!!

  39. I haven’t seen anyone disrespect the dead constable.

  40. Who’s trivialising? A young police man was apparently shot dead while his partner hopped out of the van and ran up the street.
    You don’t think there should be an enquiry into that?
    Our justice system let three criminals go. I think people are within their rights to speculate.

  41. One young budding office with, from all indications, a very bright future is dead, yet we trivialize and disrespect his passing with some dumb ass notions (excuse my language). No wonder we are where we are.

  42. In one police vehicle with two officers there’s at least two mp-5s with extra clips and two 9 mm with extra clips. Outgunned really?

  43. LOL…i know that my tax dollars paid to train police officers…and I’m well aware of the capabilities of some of these criminals…but if that’s the excuse of the police for cowardice is bess we disband the TTPS and save ourselves a lil change

  44. I think you’re being ignorant to believe these prisoners are untrained. But, carry on smartlym

  45. Point taken. Here’s my questions. Both the responses by the police vehicle and the build up outside the guard booth were unusually casual. If a man hit that jeep should have been hightailing it out

  46. 3 armed untrained prisoners against at least 2 supposedly trained officers is outnumbered and outgunned?

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