Police React To Canadian Vistor’s Death

St Lucians are reminded of how fragile our tourism industry is every time there is an attack against a visitor. The St Lucia Tourist Board goes into damage control mode, the dust settles and we all forget that “none of us is safe” once again.
The sympathy of authorities to the families of the victims does little to quell the barrage of negative attention St Lucia is receiving overseas in relation to crime however. Gone are the days when typing St Lucia into a Google search only brought up links to sun soaked beaches.
This week the Canadian media was seeking information about a visitor to the island who was attacked while at the beach. Police reports are that on Thursday 15 November two visitors were robbed while at Vigie beach. The attack occurred just after 1:30pm and police are suggesting it was a robbery. Gwenthe and Collin Peter were the two Canadian Nationals robbed, with Collin Peter being struck with an object during the attack. Mr Peter reportedly lost consciousness and they were both robbed off their valuables. He was transported via ambulance to Victoria Hospital where he was admitted and treated. The news got worse on Tuesday as Canadian journalists confirmed to the STAR that Collin Peter had died due to “brain bleeding” stemming from the injury he sustained in St Lucia.
There has not yet been an official response from tourism authorities to the incident but the police have informed us that the ministry of tourism has been briefed on the incident. The police are also confident of solving this case.
This reporter spoke to Police Commissioner Vernon Francois yesterday.
“We are looking at someone in relation to this crime and we are pursuing this,” said Commissioner Francois. “We don’t have them in custody as yet but we have positive leads.”
The commissioner also responded to the fact that this incident occurred on a public beach not far from the George FL Charles airport in mid afternoon.
“Criminals will take the opportunity any place that they get a chance,” he said “The main motive appeared to be a robbery as to what led to the level of assault and use of object, that is going to be determined as part of investigation. Why would somebody in an attempt to rob someone resort to that kind of violence? We depend so much on the tourism industry and that someone would go rob a tourist of a bag not even knowing what is in the bag and in that attempt you kill him? We need to get to the bottom of this type of mindset.”
Francois spoke to the issue of the beach ranger unit which included beach patrols. The program was discontinued some years ago.
“As far as I know the return of the beach rangers has been under discussion before this attack by the ministry of tourism,” he noted. “From a police perspective, as much as we can and based on our resources we have been providing police officers to some of the beaches and at places where visitors frequent. But with resource constraints we are not able to provide a presence all over St Lucia. What we can try to do now is bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Francois noted that the police try to be upfront with information on cases dealing with visitors.
“We try assure them that we are doing everything in our power to get who is responsible for the crime. This brings a lot of negative publicity to St Lucia, not just to the police force but all of us. We need to be aware of this and get angry about all crime in St Lucia. We need to be prepared to take action. In a number of the serious crimes that we have had people have witnessed these crimes and they are refusing to come forward. This cannot continue.”
In terms of the crime trend in St Lucia over the last few years, Francois says police have as their priority to get guns and drugs off the streets.
“In recent times we have had some success as far as that is concerned. We are working overtime to get the drugs off the streets of St Lucia and we have achieved some success as well. The police have a job to do but a lot of the time the police get called in after a crime is committed. We all have a responsibility.”
Francois went on: “There is a lot of domestic crime in St Lucia and arguments over stupid things. There needs to be education in this country. If people cannot resolve issues we are in trouble. This is a social problem. The police can try to get the guns but the problem will keep recurring. We need to address the people who are committing the crime and the people who are profiting from the proceeds of crime.”
Francois explains that police are in contact with the Peter’s family and are also  working closely with the ministry of tourism on resolving this case.

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