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Russell Jr and Balondemu charged for murder; Defence Force star discharged

Promising 23-year-old Pro League football star, Ross Russell Jr, is among two recently discharged soldiers who appeared before Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar in the Port of Spain court this morning for the murder of Diego Martin resident Selwyn Gaff.

Photo: Defence Force winger Ross Russell Jr (right) tries to sneak past Police FC midfield sentry Todd Ryan during 2015/16 Pro League action in Malabar. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: Defence Force winger Ross Russell Jr (right) tries to sneak past Police FC midfield sentry Todd Ryan during 2015/16 Pro League action in Malabar.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

Russell Jr, who has two children, was charged alongside his cousin and former Defence Force teammate Balondemu Julius, who is 34.

Gaff, 28, died from a gunshot wound on 6 June 2016 after being found in the Macqueripe forest, barely alive, by police. He was allegedly shot in the abdomen on the previous day and left for dead.

Julius and Russell Jr were detained at Teteron Headquarters, soon after Gaff’s death, while investigations were conducted. Both men were subsequently discharged from the army and handed over to the police last week.

Julius and Russell Jr were charged over the weekend with four criminal offences including Gaff’s murder, possession of arms and ammunition and shooting at Jesse Quashie with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Russell Jr did provide an alibi to the police which claimed that he was elsewhere at the time of the murder. The alibi, according to a well-placed source, was a witness statement by a third Defence Force player, who has made over 30 international appearances for the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team.

Photo: North East Stars striker Trevin Caesar (left) tries to burst past Defence Force attacker Balondemu Julius during the 2013/14 Pro League season. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: North East Stars striker Trevin Caesar (left) tries to burst past Defence Force attacker Balondemu Julius during the 2013/14 Pro League season.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Russell Jr’s arrest has shocked teammates and the local football community. He is considered a likeable player who rarely ever found himself in trouble with match referees or spats with opposing players.

However, he is believed to have been monitored by Defence Force officials after being spotted on more than one occasion in the company of a relative suspected of criminal behaviour.

He is the son of former Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Ross Russell and teamed up with his dad when Defence Force won its last Pro League title in the 2012/13 season.

Russell was coach of the “Teteron Boys” at the time while his son featured predominantly at left back.

A tall, quick and versatile flanker, Russell Jr enjoyed his most prolific spell in the local top flight in the 2015/16 Pro League season, as he scored nine goals—including game winners against W Connection and San Juan Jabloteh—and helped the Army/Coast Guard unit to third place.

Photo: Defence Force winger Ross Russell Jr (left) lifts the ball over Police FC custodian Perry O'Connor for his team's third goal in 2015/16 Pro League action in Malabar on 26 January 2016. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: Defence Force winger Ross Russell Jr (left) lifts the ball over Police FC custodian Perry O’Connor for his team’s third goal in 2015/16 Pro League action in Malabar on 26 January 2016.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

Defence Force and Russell Jr ended season on a high note as they edged Connection 2-1 on Friday 27 May 2016 to clinch the Digicel Pro Bowl title

The senior Russell, who was distraught when he spoke to Wired868 on the weekend, heads the technical staff of the Japs North East Stars Pro League team and is also a former Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team and Men’s Under-17 head coach.

Julius, a speedy, aggressive forward, last represented Defence Force in the 2013/14 season.

Julius and Russell Jr will next appear in court on 5 July 2016.

Photo: Defence Force players (from left) Ross Russell Jr, Curtis Gonzales, Balondemu Julius and Devorn Jorsling celebrate against Point Fortin Civic during the 2013/14 Pro League season. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Defence Force players (from left) Ross Russell Jr, Curtis Gonzales, Balondemu Julius and Devorn Jorsling celebrate against Point Fortin Civic during the 2013/14 Pro League season.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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100 comments

  1. Trinidad ppl is de f***ing worst yes…like some in dem see him commit murder… Stuepsss just because hes a soldier and he have a good things going ppl jump at this ….c***s

  2. All dem c***s commenting and doh really kno wat goin on…smh…hmm..social media is trouble yes

  3. Friends does carry you but don’t bring you back!

  4. This is not what one wants to see. Just have to wait and see what happens in the courts.

  5. WoW!!!! 10 years to sit and wait on a trial date aint easy.

  6. So sad that something like this could happen

  7. Innocent until proven guilty thats the rule of law

  8. Forget player for right now,a man was shot and left for dead,and these persons of interest said nothing??

  9. His whole life gone down the drain

  10. I see something different… I see our youths throwing away their lives one after the next an it hurts,, where has the love gone? I’m the father of two young boys and I believe I’m doing a great job thus far, but when i introduce my kids to my (friends) an they end up in the papers dead or headingt to jail i wonder where their thoughts go about my associates and I….. I continue to pray, jah bless

  11. So they still charge the man even when he had an alibi ?

  12. They Messed Up They Lives. Now They Live And Die In Jail.

  13. This is so disturbing… I pray God’s grace upon his dad and his family at this time because no matter what, innocent or guilty this is pain for any family to see a child that you raised. Let’s not be so quick to judge but rather think about his loved ones and the murdered victim’s loved ones more so.

  14. Ummm who will guard the guards

  15. Eh, eh, eh. Is very distracting.

    Apparently they confessed. Or so the talk is

  16. Well I am really hoping it isn’t so for true eh, because I myself like the player talent eh, and couldn’t believe it myself that he was involved but in the times that we are living in eh, money talks and bullshit walks eh, and hoping that my police officers really protects the witness who took them to the forest. Them really good yes.

  17. Well, we have a trial for that eh Mango. And we will find out what name was uttered and how many names.
    But they are innocent until proven guilty. They are suspects charged with a crime. And we will eventually know if they did it.

  18. Well the reason why they both were detained by my police officers for the murder is because another fella who was on the scene with them informed my police officers with respect to what took place and where the body of the man could be found in the forest and when my police officers got there the man was still alive and was able to tell my police officers who were the soldiers before he died on the way to the hospital eh I don’t know what kind of hit men they are eh, they didn’t make certain that the man was dead eh, and this isn’t a surprise to me eh, because thirty years ago in my policing days eh, some soldiers was also involved in the same madness like this eh, right now there are soldiers that is doing time in my second sweetest country eh, for killing an ex- American Trini soldier a few years ago in our sweet country and it was his wife who is also doing time eh, organized the hit on him because he was loaded with plenty monies eh,and alyuh know when an American ex- soldier is murdered eh we don’t stick eh we coming for the killers, so nutten has changed. Them really good.

  19. What a Waste! the world could have been yours ,makes no SENSE

  20. This is a ” I don’t know what to say ” moment.

  21. Good people do bad things…in the end hopefully tje truth prevails

  22. lasana…what di hell going on here?????? nah man!!!! tell me yuh write ah wrong report nah

  23. Classic case of friends carrying you but cyah bring yuh back let’s hope for his sake the “alibi” could stand up in court so much happening with this matter it’s confusing to say the least

  24. D lord gave you talent and you turn around and murder shame shame

  25. Unfortunately, it really isn’t very difficult to get mixed up in this sort of stuff in this country.

  26. Man some children does really embarass their parents he was a good player for army when he played under his father some thing went wrong

  27. Not a easy place to be as a father

  28. Shocked to hear this very sad

  29. wta I reading…… sana what going on with these young men…. smh

  30. Interesting that they keep insisting that the victim was still alive when he was found.

  31. The fact that they have been discharged from the Defence force and handed over to the police after defence force investigations tells a story.

  32. I thought it was their former coach cause none of the news stations added the jr .

  33. Then it have the next person who they also shot at that got away Atleast that is way d news sayin

  34. Guess the knocker is that the victim talked, called names before he died….

  35. I saw this story in the Express over the weekend but I don’t think the TTDF released the names of the soldiers.

  36. I now saw it on tv what they saying not looking good for both of them

  37. So shock..such a good player and disciplined on the field… nice person. …no his mom, dad and family will definitely be in a mess now…Stay strong God is you’ll guide my friend …

  38. And we all know how long it takes for courts to determine whether you are guilty or innocent… Eight or even 10 years sometimes! 🙁

  39. Let this be a lesson to all who take their talents/blessings for granted…..Shame and scandal ???

  40. This is a very difficult thing to deal with , I can not believe Ross Russell Jr is involved, my prayers are with you Marcy and Ross

  41. What am I reading here? I shock…. Have worked with Russell Jr in his youth days… Never a trouble maker… SMH

  42. Stunning news. I hope justice is served of course. But it is hard to believe that Russell Jr could have that kind of second life and I’d be surprised if he isn’t acquitted.
    But for the young men and women out there: Be careful of the company you keep! Even if it is your family!!

  43. I really was hoping it did not reach to this!! To d gaffer hold ur head up and stand with the youth! God is greatest

  44. Cornell Glen this is so sad I feel it for Ross and is family

  45. Sad, sad state of event 🙁 Such a young fella with a promising future. I can have no sympathy for a murderer because a life was taken away from it’s loved ones. Yet I feel empathy for him and his family. This is generally a sad, sad situation. Smh