More negative press for the TTPS in addition to the very low levels of public trust and confidence. This as TTPS officers were fingered as involved among the men who engaged in sexual exploitation of a trafficked 16-year-old girl over several months between 2014 and 2015.
Just last week National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds hosted a news conference at his office in Port of Spain, on Friday, announcing the outcome of the case in the criminal trial against 38-year-old Anthony Michael Smith, who was found guilty, on Thursday, by a nine-member jury on five charges of human trafficking and child prostitution. Smith, a former bar manager in El Dorado, was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment.
He is currently on the run from law enforcement, having absconded after two days of evidence was heard before Justice Geoffrey Henderson at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain.
He was out on bail in the sum of $2 million at the time.
Minister Hinds lamented the situation where Smith, was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment and is currently a fugitive from law enforcement, having absconded after two days of evidence was heard before Justice Geoffrey Henderson at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain. The trial continued in his absence after his disappearance.
Smith was committed to stand trial in 2021 and in February, of this year, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) filed the indictments at the High Court. The trial began on September 18, but after two days of evidence, Smith stopped showing up in court.
He had applied for bail and as part of the bail conditions that was imposed on him, after being committed to stand trial, Smith was ordered by the court to be electronically monitored by way of an ankle bracelet. He was also placed on a 24-hour home curfew. However, Smith eventually applied to the High Court for a variation of his bail to be allowed to go to work, but still be monitored. After the granting of the request, officers of the Electronic Monitoring Unit (EMU) received an alarm that indicated that the ankle bracelet was being tampered with. Officers attempted to locate Smith, but to date, they have been unable to do so.
Smith’s conviction under the Trafficking in Persons Act was the first of its kind recorded in the country. Hinds said the victim was a Trinidad and Tobago national and was under police protection. He also stated that the search was on for Smith and he was confident he would be arrested soon and sent to prison to serve his sentence.
After Smith’s conviction and in announcing the sentence to be served, the judge directed the Registrar of the High Court to forward a copy of the transcript of the proceedings to the Counter Trafficking Unit (CTU) of the Police Service as it contained evidence that police officers had sexual intercourse with the girl, the Judiciary stated. In the victim’s testimony, she indicated that the last person she had intercourse with while working for Smith was a member of the Police Service. The offences committed against her were said to have taken place between December 2014, and July 15, 2015, after she responded to a newspaper advertisement as she sought to obtain employment.
No specific name of any officer has as yet been divulged. The TTPS is seeking assistance to locate fugitive Anthony Smith and anyone with information that could lead to Smith’s arrest is asked to contact 800-TIPS, 555, 999, 911, or any police station.