Last week the Gobat family summoned the media to a press conference at their plush Cap Maison Hotel at Cap Estate. A member of the British press was also in attendance when a reward of EC$250,000 for information leading to the conviction of Ollie Gobat’s killer or killers was announced.
Ollie was murdered some time during the night on April 26. His badly charred remains were discovered in his flaming vehicle after firemen had put out the fire. It would take local police several months before they officially identified the remains. Indeed, police were reticent even after his family had held a memorial in his honour, attended by the island’s prime minister. Ollie’s remains were cremated on November 17—his birthday.
Also House Speaker, Peter Foster QC chaired the Gobat press conference. During his presentation, he cited the special fund set up by the family and friends of the deceased son, which Foster named the “Justice for Ollie fund to assist the police with the investigation and to employ the use of modern investigative processes never before used in Saint Lucia.”
If successful, he added, the investigative processes could “well lead to the permanent use of such facilities on the island.” Additionally: “The fund will also pay out to anyone EC$250,000 for the conviction of any person or persons responsible for Ollie Gobat’s murder.”
He released a hotline number and an email address for use by informants. “This telephone number and email address are independent of the police but endorsed by them,” he stated.
Moreover: “Anyone providing information, and who may have been associated with those responsible, and who may have played a minor role may be granted immunity by the prosecution.”
I put to the lawyer the following question: “The investigative processes you mentioned, how receptive have the police been and what sort of dialogue have you had with them?”
Foster: “Umm, obviously in Saint Lucia, we do face some challenges. I think we all recognize that and with the assistance of the Gobat family and, as we said, the friends that have put some funds together, there are techniques new to Saint Lucia that are being employed at this time.”
I pressed on: “Are you saying the police have accepted this assistance?”
Foster: “Yes, the police are receptive to that assistance.”
Another reporter asked him to explain what the “investigative processes” were. Foster said that he could not go into detail.
Incidentally, no one from the RSLPF was invited to last Wednesday’s press conference, convened under heavy private security.
Two days afterward, police commissioner Vernon Francois was quizzed by a Choice news reporter on the matter. “I’m not aware of any special investigative measures,” he said. “We are open to anything that will contribute to an investigation but I am not sure what the special investigative processes are that he is referring to.”
As far as the reward goes, he said that was the family’s option, that “the police do not get directly involved in such matters.”
This week Justice Minister Philip La Corbinere was asked to comment on Foster’s promise that “anyone providing information and who may have been associated with those responsible . . . may be granted immunity by the prosecution.”
Typically, LaCorbiniere was evasive: “I was not privy to that statement directly and so I am really not going to want to attribute a statement to anyone.
What I can say to you is that in terms of the criminal investigation and matters in progress, the director of public prosecutions is the constitutional entity that is going to decide whether the matter proceeds or whether a criminal matter should not proceed.
“In addition both of these entities, the DPP and the Court, are very independent in what they do and they will want at all times to preserve that independence. You cannot purport to protect an individual without the correct entity having a proper evaluation and going through the process as provided by law.”
So the new question is: Did Foster QC misspeak last week? How will his statement affect the Gobat investigation?
The Gobat family last week stated that they would have liked to have had things happen faster. Mistakes were made, they said. The crime scene was not cordoned off, for one, allowing for contamination of evidence.
Then there was the matter of the early removal of Gobat’s vehicle from the scene of the crime. They said they were fully aware of the limitations of the local police but are hopeful that with outside assistance their son’s murder will be solved.