Twenty-three year old international track star Machel Cedenio has admitted to being the athlete questioned in relation to a road fatality in Tobago.
The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service was careful not to name the athlete who was detained for three days and placed on an identification parade, as part of their investigation into the death of 55-year-old Tobagonian, Lenora Patrick. And the TTPS urged the media not to name the person, so as not to potentially affect the identification process.
However, after being released without charge yesterday, Cedenio took to Twitter to needle the media about their tardiness in reporting that he was no longer in police custody.
“They were happy to report I walked in a police station with my lawyer for questioning, etc but… they weren’t as eager to report I walked out uncharged with a cleared name!!!
“[…] Trinidad media for your money.”
It was Cedenio’s first tweet in four days and, in the process, he confirmed an open secret about how he began his week. Within an hour, his tweets were deleted.
The talented 400 metre runner, a two-time Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) Sportsman of the Year, surrendered to the Barataria Police Station on Sunday and was taken to Tobago on Monday. He remained in custody until Wednesday afternoon when he was released without charge.
A TTPS source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stressed that—despite Cedenio’s assertion that he was “cleared”—the release did not mean charges could not still be laid. The Tobago police will now go to the Deputy of Public Prosecutions, Roger Gaspard, for further instructions.
“It is proper to hold someone for up to 48 hours and—if there is not enough evidence or if they don’t have the necessary operational instructions [from the DPP] to charge—to then release,” attorney Matthew Gayle explained to Wired868 yesterday. “The maximum holding time ought to be 48 hours but sometimes they go for as long as 72 hours. Often the police would wait for the person to apply to a judge for their release; but, if they haven’t laid charges by then, the right thing is to release.
“But then, if you get the necessary information, you can re-arrest… It is unusual to release to re-arrest, but they do have that power.”
Patrick, who lived on Mary’s Hill, was found by a jogger, on 4 July, lying in a drain east of Auchenskeoch roundabout on the Claude Noel Highway. Police believe she had been there for three days.
An autopsy conducted by pathologist Dr Eastlyn McDonald-Burris at the Scarborough General Hospital revealed blunt force trauma, a broken neck and multiple broken bones. Then Assistant Commissioner of Police, Garfield Moore, suggested that the injuries were consistent with that of a car accident.
It is believed that the body was moved from the site of the accident to where it was eventually discovered.
Cedenio has not been charged for the tragic incident.
A former World Juniors 400 metre champion, Cedenio is considered one of the country’s brightest track hopefuls. He was still a student at Presentation College (San Fernando) when he was selected as reserve for the 4×400 metre relay team, which won bronze the London 2012 Olympic Games.
At just 16 years and 326 days old, Cedenio—despite not getting on to the track at the London Games, became Trinidad and Tobago’s second youngest Olympic selectee, behind former 200 metre runner Laura Pierre, who was 16 years and 236 days at the Munich 1972 Olympics.
He went on to gold and silver medals in the 4×400 relays at the London 2017 and Beijing 2015 World Championships respectively, although he is yet to medal in a major individual event as an adult. He came closest at the Rio 2016 Olympics, where he was fourth with a national record of 44.01, as South African champion Wayde van Niekerk set a new world record of 43.03.
However, 2018 has not been kind to Cedenio. He failed to qualify for the 400 metre final at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games while he was fourth in the 4×400 metre relay at the same competition.
Cedenio did not participate in the Barranquilla 2018 CAC Games, which opened on 17 July, after disclosing an injury to the NAAA just before the team departed for South America. He has not run competitively since.
For the past three days, Tobago police questioned Cedenio over his whereabouts, two weeks before the CAC Games, when Patrick was killed in what appears to be a hit and run accident.
After 72 hours in custody, he was released without charge.