Harbour Master Captain: Brawl With Grenada Athlete ‘Blown Out Of Proportion’

(TT NEWSDAY) – Four Trinidadians convicted in Grenada for the assault of national athlete Anderson Peters, have each been fined $5,500 Eastern Caribbean (EC) or just under TT$14,000 each.

The four, deckhand John Alexander, 55, sailor Mikhail John, 35, captain Noel Cooper, 42 and sailor Sheon Jack, 28, pleaded guilty to causing grievous harm to Peters and causing harm to his brother, Kiddon, when they appeared in the St Georges’ Magistrates Court on Monday.

Their sentencing was delayed until yesterday and all four were spared jail time. Their fines and legal fees were paid by their employers and by noon, they were released from police custody.

Hours later, captain Noel Cooper spoke to Guardian Media in an exclusive interview from his quarters on the Harbour Master about the incident.

On August 10, the Harbour Master and its crew was in Grenada for one week and scheduled to return to Trinidad later that night, after two back-to-back events.

“What took place was something common, because with this type of environment, any type of environment where you have alcohol involved, you have persons who would behave in a hostile manner, in an aggressive manner,” Cooper said yesterday.

But he said while pushback from guests on the vessel was something he and his crew were accustomed to, on this occasion it turned out to be much more impactful than they could have predicted.

Cooper said after docking the vessel, the crew was preparing for another event when they realised Peters and his friends were still on board.

“These individuals were asked repeatedly, it was almost as if we had to beg them to depart the vessel. However, they weren’t too pleased with that. Statements were made, slurs, expletives, they attacked our nationality,” Cooper alleged.

But what seemed to be nothing more than a barrage of insults against the crew soon turned physical.

“It started with me being assaulted by who turned out to be Anderson Peters and, of course, naturally, my crew seeing that, they rushed to my defence. It wasn’t just Mr Anderson, but he had some other persons with him as well, it just turned into a brawl at that point,” Cooper claimed.

Although commentators on social media have been bashing the crew for not contacting the police to prevent the brawl, Cooper said they simply did not get a chance to do so because “the incident unfolded very quickly.”

He said even if Peters and his group wanted to attend the second event, they would still have had to disembark before boarding again.

But despite all that happened in the days following the incident, Cooper said he bears no ill will toward Peters.

He has even reconsidered his earlier decision to bring private criminal charges for assault against Peters.

“It was unfortunate what took place, to me it was just a brawl, big men got into a fight and it was blown out of proportion. It was a lesson learnt not just for the other side I’m guessing, but for sure it was a lesson learnt for me and my crew … I have since had a change of heart, everything worked out well, thanks be to God. Let bygones be bygones,” Cooper said.

He was also relieved that despite the anger coming from Grenadians, he and his crew were treated well while in custody at the St Paul’s Police Station.

Now, Cooper is looking forward to returning home.

But he cannot say when that would be, nor could he give an update on the civil matter being brought against him, the crew and the owner of the Harbour Master, Adrian Scoon.