(SNO) – One of the men who was held by police then released without charge in connection with the shooting death of prominent taxi and tour operator Nereus ‘Cosol’ Francis’, has told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) in an exclusive interview on Friday, July 27 that persons are trying to frame him.
Maulings Delice, 31, of Cacao, Babonneau, said the rumours began shortly after Francis, who operated Cosol St. Lucia Tours, was killed. Since then he has been receiving death threats.
“I can’t tell exactly when the rumours started but I heard it about three or four days after the man’s death,” Delice said.
“I know nothing about this man’s death,” he added.
“I wish to know who’s saying such about me cause I will surely take them to court, because right now, my pic is all over the media saying I am the murderer in this man’s death. I wish my name could positively be cleared out of this because it doesn’t look good to my face.”
Police said in a press release that they discovered Francis, who appeared to be “lifeless”, beneath his taxi-registered Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, on the La Feuillet, Gros Islet road minutes before 11 p.m. on Monday, July 9, 2018
Medical assistance was sought and Francis was pronounced dead at Victoria Hospital, police said.
The 51-year-old, who was a resident of La Retraite, Gros Islet but originally from La Guerre, Babonneau, sustained a fatal gunshot wound to the chest, according to the post-mortem.
His death shocked the nation, particularly people involved in the tourism industry. His award-winning Cosol Tours was arguably the leading tour and taxi business on the entire island.
So when news surfaced yesterday (July 26) that three young men were in custody in connection with his killing, many felt relieved. However, this was short-lived when our newsroom revealed that all the alleged suspects were released without charge.
Delice was one of the persons who was arrested.
He told SNO that his friend was arrested on Monday morning (July 23), about 6 in the morning, and he (Delice) turned myself in the same Monday morning, between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m.
Delice explained: “Me and another friend of mine was arrested. I heard people saying three was arrested. I’m not sure if a third body was arrested. I know nothing about the third person or if it’s true. My friend was arrested, and I brought myself in because a warrant was left by my mother for me, and as soon as I got it, I went to the police.
Both men were held at different police stations: Delice at Babonneau and his friend at Custody Suites. Delice said he was released on Thursday morning while his friend was released on Wednesday night.
A law enforcement source told SNO that the suspects were released due to lack of evidence. The source added that the men had good alibis.
Delice said he was confident he was nowhere near the scene the night Francis was shot and he is totally innocent of the allegations.
“I didn’t kill the man, and I have no reason to kill the man. I never had any affiliations with the man. I never had anything with the man. My girlfriend’s entire household could tell I was at home the night and time that happened,” he said.
Delice said this is the second time he is being accused of killing someone and he believes he is being set up for destruction by someone or a group of people. He also accused some police officers of trying to pin crimes on him.
“That is the second time people accusing me of killing someone. I was arrested the same way the last time and nothing for that. Even police officers are telling people that I am the killer, but I know to myself that I have no involvement in this.
“If the police can’t hold the criminal, is not me that is innocent they will be able to sink for this. I strongly believe is someone who really hates me for what reason I don’t know, or very jealous of me, that is doing me such because they been doing me all kinds of stupidity on social media, like spreading my pic and name saying I have aids and calling me the biggest thief in Saint Lucia. But they always do it with a fake profile.”
Our newsroom asked Delice “why would people try to frame you, are you a member of a gang?”
He responded: “I am not in any gang. I have friends but I can’t tell them what to do. People do as they please. I could only caution them, but I can’t tell them what to do.”
Despite his plea of innocence for the shooting of the taxi man, Delice admitted that his past was not perfect.
In 2010, he was shot by police moments after shooting someone. He said this incident occurred “on the road leading to Forestierre”.
“Listen to me, I once was involved in a dispute with some people in 2010 where I shot someone and police shot me at the same time. It was the morning of Hurricane Tomas. I fired a few shots at some guys, and a female got shot in her buttocks. But all this was resolved, and everything was good after.
“[I got shot] a little above my left knee, and my leg is disabled from then. I do walk with a walking stick, and I can’t move any of my toes on that foot, neither can I move my ankle.”
Delice said he is the father of two children — for two different women — a son who is two years and two months, and a baby girl, who turned two months today (July 27).
He said he is unemployed but he is taken care of by his girlfriend.
“I do drive a luxury vehicle, but little that people know, it’s my girlfriend’s vehicle. I get full support from my woman. She works and she has a good job,” he said.
Delice hopes this article will clear his name and that of his friend.
“Honestly, I have nothing to hide,” he said.
A law enforcement source told our newsroom that is not uncommon for persons in the community to try to frame persons for crimes they didn’t commit.
“Even though a person has a past it doesn’t mean they commit a crime or continue to commit crimes. For the young men who were in custody I can’t speak for them, but it is known that enemies of persons who have a past usually use this as their venom to get people set up and harmed. We had a case some years back where a woman told a gang that her ex killed their relative and that gang tried to kill her ex. It is not everything you hear about a person you should believe. A lot of innocent people are killed for this reason,” the source said.