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Cornelius John

Cornelius John’s foot was placed in a cast after the shooting (iWN file photo)

One witness was asked to sign a false statement about the shooting of Cornelius John, 60, at his home on April 13, while another was told to keep their mouth shut, iWitness News was reliably informed.

Sources, independent of each other, have told iWitness News that a witness was asked to sign a statement saying that John had a cutlass when his assailants shot him.

John, a businessman, of Diamond Estate, has maintained that he was unarmed and was not aggressive to the three persons who came to his house, one of whom shot him.

Commissioner of Police Colin John has told iWitness News that lawyer Ashelle Morgan, who is a government senator and deputy speaker of the House of Assembly, and Karim Nelson, an assistant director of public prosecution, are persons of interest in the investigation into the shooting.

The identity of the third person who is alleged to have been present when the shooting took place has not been disclosed.

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John has said repeatedly that while the persons were wearing face masks, he was able to recognise Morgan from her gait, physique and voice, as she grew up in the neighbourhood.

He said he did not recognise the two men, one of whom shot him.  

No arrests have been made or charges laid in connection with the shooting, which has attracted widespread discussion about justice in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

However, John’s lawyer, Kay Bacchus-Baptiste confirmed to iWitness News, on Sunday, that she and police officers went to John’s house earlier that day as part of the investigation.

“The police were told to get further information as to whether Mr. John had a cutlass or any weapon or anything,” Bacchus-Baptiste told iWitness News of the reason for Sunday’s visit to her client’s home.

“They wanted to get measurements as to where he was when they (assailants) came and where they (assailants) were. They are still going to take a caution statement. They are aiming to charge that man (Mr. John) still,” she said.

“So tomorrow, DV, I am going to go in with him to the police station.”

Karim Nelson Ashelle Morgan
Assistant DIrector of Public Prosecution, Karim Nelson, left, and Senator Ashelle Morgan, are “persons of interest” in the investigation..

She said that the police had told her that they needed to get certain clarifications.

“But what is amazing is that the clarification is something that they should have gotten from day one — eight weeks ago, if they were serious. Taking measurements when the prime minister said the investigation was closed.

“And now they actually put down markers of where he was sitting when his [assailant] ran off and kicked him. Where the second one was standing, where the third one was standing. This is amazing because it is clear to me now that they are now forced to investigate. Nothing was done really, before.” 

Bacchus-Baptiste said that what is strange is that the police have not disclosed what Mr. John supposedly did with a cutlass. 

“If it were a normal investigation, the police would put to him that he did so and so to a named person with a cutlass. To this day, no such disclosure has been made. It is against the rule of natural justice not to put to an accused what exactly he is being accused of!” the lawyer told iWitness News.

This publication understands that the witness who was approached refused to alter their statement, thereby creating “problems” for those claiming that John’s assailants had shot him in self-defence.

Further, iWitness News was reliably informed that an auxiliary police officer witnessed the shooting, and, at the time of the shooting, was on the phone with a detective who gave clear instructions as to what to do in its immediate aftermath.

The source told iWitness News that the auxiliary officer was telling the detective, via cellular phone, what was happening at John’s house when the gunshot rang out.

One hearing the shot, the detective told the auxiliary officer to go to John’s house to verify his status.

When the auxiliary officer went to John’s house, the injured man responded, saying he was unable to move.

The detective is said to have told the auxiliary officer to look around the scene for weapons.

The auxiliary officer found no weapon, but pointed out a bullet casing to the police who arrived at the scene after the axiliary officer, the source told iWitness News.

Cornelius John 1
The shooting victim, Cornelius John. (iWN file photo)

Speaking at a press conference on May 21, John said that after the shooting, neighbours came out.

“But it have a neighbour on the side. She came and she looked around with a light then she asked me what happen; I said, ‘They shoot me in my foot’

“She said, ‘Could you walk? Get up?’ I said, ‘No.’ Then she called the police. I think she called for her husband first, then she called the police and the ambulance then the police came.”

He said that to his knowledge, no weapons were retrieved from the scene.

“Any weapon retrieved from the scene, it has to be the gun that they shoot me with,” he said. 

In a May 19 interview with iWitness News, John said it was “not true” that he had attacked the trio with a cutlass.

“That’s not true. No truth in that. I was sitting on the blocks and the guy just run and kick me off the blocks. I did not attack anyone. I had no need to attack anyone. I am not an attacker,” he told iWitness News.

While it took two weeks for the shooting to become public, iWitness News understands that in the hours immediately following the shooting, a story began to circulate that John was shot because he had attacked the trio.

Our sources said that one person went to a witness, saying, “If you know what’s good for you, you’d keep your mouth shut.”

The witness, however, later decided to give police a statement about what had happened.

A separate witness is said to have been confronted after they gave to the police a statement that did not refer to a cutlass.

“Why did you not mention the cutlass?” the witness was reportedly told.

“Because there was no cutlass there,” the witness responded, according to our source.

Witness Statement

iWitness News understands that the person who approached the witness asking about the absence of a reference to a cutlass in the statement, then produced a statement that included reference to a cutlass and asked the witness to sign it.

The witness refused. 

Speaking to iWitness News on Sunday, Bacchus-Baptiste said that police had earlier asked Mr. John for a caution statement, claiming it related to a report his wife had made.

“Now, today, they say the complaint is made by Ashelle and Karim. The two of them made a complaint against him. Strange enough, there does not appear to be a complaint by the third person who was there,” she said.

The lawyer said she has not been able to determine in any official way who the third person is.

“I know the third person is a driver. I know it is not a police and it appears that I have it right. The person is a driver. That is the most I can say without having the official confirmation.”

Returning to the request by the police for a caution statement, Bacchus-Baptiste said that until iWitness News interviewed John’s wife, Nicole on May 5, police had been telling him that the caution statement related to a complaint his wife had made against him.

But, in the interview, Mrs. John, when asked if she and her husband had had a confrontation on the day of the shooting, told iWitness News “not to my knowing”.

Asked to clarify her statement, Mrs. John, said, “Well, not to my knowing. If two people have confrontation, these two people have to be verbalising these words, right? 

“If me and you have confrontation, that means me and you have to verbalise words; so not to my knowing. That’s all I have to say, please.”

On Sunday, Mrs. John appeared to have hung up the phone when iWItness News contacted her and subsequent calls went unanswered. 

Kay Bacchus Baptiste
John’s lawyer, Kay Bacchus-Baptiste. (iWN file photo)

Also on Sunday, Bacchus-Baptiste said:

“To my mind, that is what altered everything, even what the prime minister was saying. That altered what he said. And it is no longer defending women now. It is that he attacked both of them.

“Both of them, according to the police, made a statement against him, which still doesn’t make sense to me because I don’t know how if somebody come to your yard in the night, dressed like how they were and if you, obviously,  had reason to defend yourself, I don’t know how that could be that he attacked. But, I think they are just desperate.”
Bacchus-Baptiste said she was not saying that her client attacked the assailants or defended himself against them.

“But even if he did, he would have had a good defence.  So it shows me how desperate these people are. They are determined to charge this man.”

She said that on Sunday, the police went to a witness as well as Mrs. John.

The lawyer said she understands that the police have statements from all three persons who were present when John was shot.

“I was not able to determine whether it was a caution statement or not. I really don’t think it is a caution statement and that is what is upsetting even more, that they would want a caution statement from my client but I am not even sure that they have caution statements from the others. They said they have statements that were made concerning the incident.”

The lawyer said that her client’s injury is improving.

“The cast is off and I can see that the injury is coming along but he has to go back tomorrow, DV, for them to treat the wound again or something.”

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19 replies on “Witness refuses to sign ‘false statement’ in shooting case”

  1. Avatar Of Duke DearmentDuke DeArment says:

    I hate to say it but, this is getting interesting. It is in some ways like a thriller. Good writing Kenton, good investigative work. We are all wondering: “What comes next?” Kay is right: they do seem desperate. Have they ever tried to approach Mr John. I wonder if they have ever heard the statement:

    “The best way to defeat your enemy is to make them your friend.”

    I am getting the impression that someone has been fed negative and possibly untrue information about Mr John and, in believing it, went to punish him for it. Ad to that, most of us men get this macho instinct of chivalry and in this case not considering his position, went too far. That is the theory I hold at present. The outcome will probably not be positive for the perpetrators. To ameliorate, they may want to try some humility and talk to Mr John.

    We have all witnessed a few political people in SVG using power to “turn” their mistakes into positives. A few lawyers in SVG make the victim out to be the perpetrator and the perpetrator to be the victim. Trying to say Mr John had a cutlass is such an attempt. Very sad!
    The “vow of silence” in this case seems just to be the one side hoping, waiting, looking (behind the scenes) for information to “turn” the case. They have been and will continue to use “time” as a weapon. This seems to be their arsenal. Public opinion seems to be against them and who knows if the truth or just politics and power will play a part in deciding this thriller.
    Personally I would admire Ms. Morgan if she came forward and told everything to the press. This will not happen. Not because of her character, which may be good, although she made a mistake as we all do. She will not do this because it is not about character, it is politics and… Too much “liberal attitude” in the world today. Meaning: If you show courage and good character, a willingness to admit and correct your mistakes, the liberals will rip you to pieces and piss on your grave. That is our society today. She did not pull the trigger. She may have been badly misinformed. Things got to hot.
    She got bad information. She is probably getting bad advice right now. Go talk to Mr. John. Put the power of your character above politics. Humility is character building. We do not have much of that in the ULP.
    Do the right thing. Make chapter three be a happy ending.

  2. This stinks to high heaven. To what heights will they go to protect their own All people must come out against this injustice

  3. Avatar Of DdiplobloggaDdiploblogga says:

    What is troubling according to the aforementioned news item, is the ‘trouble’ that is created through and through in the determination of getting the truth.

    Opinions are opinions which are Not facts!

    Perceptions are perceptions.

    Truth is truth!

    My grandma used to say to us: “speak the truth and speak it ever, cause it what it will!”

    Until the truth is told, until opinions and perceptions are laid aside, this situation will be one that was classified as entering” a slippery slope” on the road that leads to justice in this country.

    A crime has been committed. Someone was shot by someone.
    Was it as a result of influence on two others within the remit of a joint enterprise by someone else?

    Justice must be done in this country. Justice must not only be seen as being done ✅
    It is time enough to bring closure to this troubling matter.

  4. Avatar Of The Truth And Nothing But The TruthThe truth and nothing but the truth says:

    This case stinks to high heaven one thing i can tell you is this will tell you a lot about the law and especially the people of ST VINCENT the eyes of the world is upon you .

  5. Let justice flow like a river. The knee of injustice is on the neck of Vincentians, may God almighty, all powerful, who see all things,help us in this land.

  6. Avatar Of Helter GeorgeHelter George says:

    Ralf is the one who allowed this fish to stink. Had he allowed this case to take its legal path all these nonsense wouldn’t have been published. Now he has tarnished this girl’s future.
    I am sure had this gone the legal way Mr John might have even settled. Now his pompous attitude sent this case international. Can’t make up stories now, too late!

  7. Say what now? Is this how justice works in our country? I am lost, somebody, anybody please help me out. I just cannot comprehend what I am reading here, is this real news, fiction or I am suffering from dyslexia? I cannot find the words to describe my feelings at this point, furious, emotional, inflamed or dejected it is a mixed bag. I am completely baffled as to why someone in law enforcement will ask a witness to do the following:
    Asking a witness to sign a false statement that is not their actual statement, is this not the same as perjury?
    Threatening witness to keep their mouth shut and withholding evidence in a case, is this not the same as intimidating witness?
    So, who is the culprit that is guilty of these charges? they must be charge for obstructing justice.
    The government is not taking Mr. John case seriously, he is a law-abiding citizen whose rights were trampled upon. Mr. John did not allegedly commit a crime it is the other way around, why is it so difficult to investigate this case and let this man get what he rightfully deserves? Justice!!!
    It is time to stop all the shenanigan’s that is going on. Colin John, we the people, the taxpayers of St Vincent and the Grenadines, who pays your salary, called on you to do your job as the commissioner of the puppet force, without any more interference from Ralph Gonsalves. The alleged criminals must be charge with felonious assault now!! This Investigations is taking too long, and why is the third person still a mystery when it is almost two months? Why are only now markers being placed at the crime scene? Why the markers have not being placed at the time when the bullet was retrieved, and who retrieve the bullet from the crime scene? to add insult to injury you trying to tell us that Mr. John had a cutlass. He was on his property, that is his right to carry a cutlass or whatever he chooses to carry, and if threating on his property defend himself and his family from any trespasser or aggressor with criminal intent against him. We do not want to hear what Mr. John had in his possessions at the time of the crime. Tell us why the alleged criminals were there at his home with guns? That is what we need to know!! How much longer we the people must tolerate recklessness?
    You all cannot fool us, we see you, we know what you all are doing, trying to dress -up a wolf in sheep clothing, but we are not having it. The entire country needs a clean house, from the Prime Minister, his cabinet, and the entire Ralph puppet force. They failed to realize that they are working for the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines and not for Ralph!!! We THE PEOPLE DEMAND JUSTICE, JUSTICE FOR ONE IS JUSTICE FOR ALL!! STAY WOKE PEOPLE, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!

  8. Why don’t his wife talk the truth if it help her husband ,she should be his support if he means anything to her
    Just wondering ,is she being used, afraid to talk or is she really involved .Is her husband aware of whatever the friendship really is with d senator .There is a lot in the mortah besides the pistle he could of been killed .What kind of a human is she ? Justice must be rendered swiftly and soon
    Time for SVG to stop all this backward monkey business !

  9. This is y civilian could never have loyalty in police if it comin from.the head the tail not any different

  10. Avatar Of Hashtag PrinceHashtag Prince says:

    Taking measurements??? What the hell is this??? Was this a car accident ???
    Corruption with a big stink. They went on to Mr. John’s property with intent to injure and so did.
    Now they trying to intimidate him, bring false witnesses and lock him up – for representing himself. How can these villainous public servants sleep in their beds at night? God is the one who will give vengeance!!! I am sick to the stomach with this. It is a clear-cut offence and solution and the police wanna make Mr. John look like the villain when he is the victim…MY GOD!!!! “Animal Farm” tactics – ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL…BUT SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS!” Jehovah Sees, Jehovah Hears, Jehovah Knows!!!

  11. Avatar Of Hashtag PrinceHashtag Prince says:

    CALLING ON ALL VINCENTIANS AT HOME AND ABROAD>>>>DO NOT LET THIS DIE>>>>HOLD THE GOVERNMENT TO ACCOUNT FOR THIS VICIOUS, DISRESPECTFUL ASSAULT ON A HUMBLE CITIZEN. MR JOHN IS NOT A DOG BUT A MAN. YOU CAN’T EVEN TREAT AN ANIMAL IN THIS MANNER AND GET AWAY WITH IT IN THESE TIMES. HIS RIGHTS ARE BEING MISREPRESENTED. THIS TREATMENT BY A GOVERNMENT AND PEOPLE IN PUBLIC OFFICE CANNOT BE CHATTED AWAY. STAND UP AND STAND TALL FOR A VINCENTIAN LIFE THAT MATTER!!! SOME PEOPLE WON’T EVEN ALLOW YOU TO TREAT THEIR DOG BADLY, SO WHY SHOULD WE ALLOW A GOVERNMENT TO DISREGARD A SON OF THE SOIL..YES A GOVERNMENT BECAUSE THAT IS WHO THE TRESPASSERS AND “THUGS IN OFFICE” REPRESENT! MARCH UP AND DOWN KINGSTOWN FOR JUSTICE!!! TAKE MR.JOHN TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS TRIBUNAL IF YOU HAVE TO!!!! HE WAS VIOLATED AND HAS BEEN DENIED HIS RIGHT TO JUSTICE!

  12. Avatar Of Percival ThomasPercival Thomas says:

    I think we are in danger of getting ourselves lost in this incident.
    A crime has been comitted and no one has been charged or arrested by the police. Why no charge or arrest?
    Top brass of the ULP are of interest to the Police. Why were these two people around John’s house?
    Why did the PM commented on the issue? Perhaps he spotted trouble for his government.
    Action is needed now by the Police. Such action should be independent of government.
    Vincentians should not let Ralph off the hook on this issue. The people who comitted the crime must be held accountable as well as those who aided and abbeted.
    This is the Rule of Law at stake here and how justice is done in SVG.
    The Opposition party have a major role in highlighting how politics have been brought into the justice system by the PM. When he commented on the incident.

  13. #VOLITA I think u hit the nail on the head i made a comment along these lines but it wasn’t publish because of what one of these letters stand for (LGBT) at the end of the day Mr John wife and the connection with the senator is the key to this situation and like you said why isn’t she defending her husband what is she so afraid of by keeping quiet you’re making people come to they own conclusion witch in the end might just be the truth.

  14. Avatar Of Gilbertsnutsgilbertsnuts says:

    The Dynasty, Police, Judiciary, and Leadership are as one.

    Try singing this fatty boy

    Pretty woman, stop a while
    Pretty woman, talk a while
    Pretty woman, give your smile to me
    Pretty woman, yeah, yeah, yeah
    Pretty woman, look my way
    Pretty woman, say you’ll stay with me
    ‘Cause I need you, I’ll treat you right
    Come with me, baby, be mine tonight

  15. There is an old adage that a drowning man will grab at a straw is akin to the alleged culprits trying to find some relevance to save their hides. Some prople think because they are Ulp supporter that give them the right to violate one rights.

    It seems as if sone Ulp supporter have no respect for the sanctuary of peope property . They feel they walk in and do whatever pleases them.

    Recently a rogue Ulp supporter a pannist in Queens drive trespass on my property and cut down a coconut tree with just cause shows the extent to which the people can trespass on one’s property without just cause. It a sad state of affair in St Vincent.

  16. Avatar Of Caribbean BoyCaribbean Boy says:

    I just don’t understand why people who like to commit these types of acts think that God will stand on the side and give a pass to their sinful acts.If they never read it before they need to go and read Revelation 20:12 where it shows that all of our actions are being recorded in heaven,and one day we all will stand before him to give an account for these actions.

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