A look at Laventille East/Morvant…
ADRIAN, THE BOY SANTA FORGOT
By: Peter Green
Adrian Leonce was very excited when he was chosen as the candidate for the People’s National Movement (PNM) to fight the Laventille East/Morvant seat in the 2015 General Elections.
He had replaced Donna Cox who had fallen out of grace with the top brass of the PNM during the period in Opposition. Leonce was given one of the most traditional of PNM seats – a constituency which never surrendered either to the NAR in 1986 or the People’s Partnership in 2010.
In 2010, Cox got 10,797 votes, winning by more than 7,000 votes. But Leonce was more impressive in 2015, getting 13,662 and defeating his closest rival, Kathy-Ann Francis of NJAC who got just 1,599 votes.
There was a big victory celebration in Morvant on the night of September 7, 2015, when Leonce and the PNM won. But the thrill of victory soon became agony for the young MP.
He was left out of the Cabinet for almost four years. He remained a back-bencher in Parliament despite repeated calls from the party faithful to give him a Government position. Despite being side-stepped, Leonce remained committed to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
Leonce has a Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering and has his own company. Despite his qualifications and his loyalty, Leonce sat among the back-benchers.
Unlike other PNM MPs, Leonce has always been seen in his constituency office on the Lady Young Road, Morvant. A cursory glance will show that his office is always packed with constituents wanting some kind of assistance.
Betty Lancaster, who lives at Caledonia, Morvant, says she is a strong supporter of Leonce and the PNM. But she does not like the way he has been treated. “It reminds me of the boy that Santa forgot.”
Maybe Rowley relented under pressure in August by appointing him Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Public Utilities.
Lancaster was pleased when she saw Leonce finally given a job.
He stated, “I was very happy to be called upon to do additional service and I want to do it to the best of my ability.” His appointment came on the heels of the firing of Marlene Mc Donald on criminal charges. In fact, Leonce and Mc Donald are very good friends.
But what has Leonce done for the people of Laventille and Morvant?
“There is very little any sitting MP could do for these areas,” Desmond Batholomew said. “Adrian is a Government MP and when one thought he would have some clout, he really has none. He comes here every week listening to our problems, but poor fella, what can he really do?”
Batholomew said there are too many idle youths in the area. He said some of these youths have been taken away by criminals. “These youths are attracted by easy money and guns. They see this as a way of earning fast money to help them out from their poverty. But most times they end up in the funeral homes. Some of them are also innocent victims.” Another resident who preferred to remain anonymous said that “Rowley has no room in his Cabinet for more than one Rasta at a time and a fake one at that in the person of Fitzgerald Hinds. So Leonce is bound to suffer and, by extension, we his constituents. Not a single person in this constituency has gotten a job or an HDC house in this constituency due to Leonce influence. There are no one percenters here so Rowley does not care.”
Leonce was a victim of robbery outside his constituency office on May 26, 2017. Someone from the area broke into his vehicle and disappeared with a cell phone, ipad and laptop.
In September 2018, robbery was the motive in the brutal double murder of elderly siblings Victor Hutchinson, 78, and his sister, Claudette Cassell, 81.
The siblings were found murdered in the upper floor of their concrete split-level home, which they shared at Mc Donald Trace, Chinapoo Village, Morvant.
According to a police report, residents in the area heard voices resembling Hutchinson’s and his sister speaking loudly as though they were in an argument. Gunshots followed the argument.
Residents later found the bloodied bodies of the elderly people.
Police said Cassell was found slumped at the side of her bed, while her brother was found on the floor in the living room. Police said both were shot several times about their bodies. No one was arrested.
Murder of a schoolboy
In 2018, Joel Huggins, a 15-year-old student of the Success Laventille Secondary School, was shot and killed.
Police say Huggins was liming with his brother outside an apartment at Almond Court, Morvant, when a group of men approached them.
Police say the older brother ran off but the men shot the teenager.
His brother later found him lying face down with several gunshot wounds.
No one was ever arrested.
In January 2018, students of the Morvant Laventille Secondary School said they heard the shots that snuffed out the life of their 14-year-old classmate Joshua Andrews.
Andrews was shot and burnt alive when the PH taxi in which he was travelling home from school came under attack from gunmen. The driver Devon Hernandez was also killed. Two other students of the same school were also wounded during the attack. No one was arrested.
Notwithstanding all the “no one was arrested” situations, Leonce has called on the people to stand up against the criminals and let the police do their work.
There was a murder spree in the constituency in April this year.
Kareem Garcia, 27, was fatally shot along Thompson Lane, off Laventille Road Extension. Fay-Ann Cordiner and Michael Edwards, both of Thompson Lane, were also shot in this incident. Edwards sustained a gunshot injury to his buttocks. While Cordiner sustained injuries to her lower back.
Stephen ‘Goatman’ Joseph, 25, was shot dead on the same roadway after leaving Garcia’s wake.
Then Andie Simon, 45, was shot dead at the Las Alturas Housing Development, Morvant.
Has Leonce done enough to warrant a second term in 2020? The constituency is safe in the hands of the PNM. That is a seat which the PNM will never relinquish, according to residents. Time will tell if Rowley is satisfied with Leonce.