Minister's son facing charges

Shane Aleong made his first appearance in court yesterday afternoon.

PORT OF SPAIN – A day after he surrendered to police, a son of Education Minister Dr. Tim Gopeesingh appeared in court yesterday charged with using obscene language, assaulting Gregory Wight, occasioning him actual bodily harm, and possession of a weapon with intent to commit an offence. Pleading not guilty to the charges, Shane Aleong, 28, of Ellerslie Park, Maraval, was granted $25,000 bail to be approved by a clerk of the peace.

After several requests from Aleong’s lawyers, Ravi Rajcoomar and John Heath, instructed by Nalini Bansie, a cash alternative of $10,000 was also granted. Aleong, also known as Shane Gopeesingh, an information technology consultant, appeared before Senior Magistrate Annette McKenzie in the Port-of-Spain Fourth Court just after 3 p.m. yesterday. Clad in a black suit, Aleong remained expressionless as the charges were read to him.

The court heard that on September 19 at Carlos Street, Woodbrook, Aleong allegedly used obscene language, assaulted Gregory Wight causing him harm, and used a cutlass with intent to wound. He was brought to the court in a marked police vehicle around 2.45 pm, escorted by two officers. In his application for bail, Rajcoomar told the court that a letter had been sent to the police a week ago after the defence learnt that Aleong was “a person of interest.”

He said Aleong had surrendered to investigators on Monday morning at the Central Police Station and had co-operated with police. Claiming that Aleong had become the target of a media campaign, Rajcoomar said he was from a well-known family and that his father was a government minister. Last week, the Education Minister admitted that Aleong was his son.

Heath and Rajcoomar appealed for the clerk of the peace approval to be varied, claiming that because of time constraints and the fact that an official might not have been available yesterday afternoon, Aleong might have had to spend last night in prison. Rejecting claims that Aleong had been brought to court late, McKenzie asked: “Why is he any different from any other defendant?”

Mc Kenzie pointed out that there was a procedure to be followed in complying with the bail conditions, but agreed to impose a cash alternative. The matter was later adjourned to October 9. The charges were laid by Sgt Christopher Joshua. Aleong’s appearance in court yesterday resulted from a week-long investigation led by ASP Ajith Persad of the Port-of-Spain CID. (Guardian)

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