Machete attack victim hung himself

An Indian national working as a security guard in Cayman hung himself just months after a vicious machete attack left him requiring extensive reconstructive facial surgery, the Coroners’ Court heard Monday.

Carmo Diaz, 32, was found hanging from an ackee tree in the backyard of the house he shared in Windsor Park on 7 March, 2006 – just over two months after he was attacked as he guarded the National Archives.

After hearing evidence Monday the Coroner’s Court Jury returned a unanimous verdict of death by suicide.

In a statement read into court, Mr. Diaz’s employer, Andrew Thomas Scott, said two unknown attackers were believed to have chopped Mr. Diaz’s face and head several times with a machete while he was on duty on 4 January, 2006. He was also beaten around the face, sustaining extensive damage to his eye and facial bones.

It took eight hours of surgery at the Cayman Islands Hospital to save Mr. Diaz’s life, Scott explained, followed by further reconstructive surgery in Jamaica. Doctors there had to take bone from Mr. Diaz’s scull and replace it under his right eye socket, restructure his nasal passages and do cosmetic work to hide deep scars on his face.

Mr. Scott described Mr. Diaz as a dedicated and ambitious employee with an easy going disposition, who had been liked by all who came into contact with him.

But this all changed after his attack, Mr. Scott’s statement said. ‘Even though he sustained horrific injuries, and endured long and painful surgeries, he appeared to be making good progress and his positive outlook on life appeared to be returning,’ he said.

Mr. Diaz’s housemate, friend and colleague, Juliao Calaco, said the deceased had always been an upbeat person, with a good and friendly personality. After the attack, his friend had started worrying that if his sight didn’t recover, he would be unable to work and forced to return to India. Mr. Diaz worried because he was an only son, responsible for providing for his mother in India, he explained.

Mr. Calaco told the court Mr. Diaz had begun regularly looking at his scars in the mirror, talking about how his face was not like before.

But despite this, his impression had been that Mr. Diaz was OK and didn’t seem depressed, Mr. Calaco said, adding his friend had been reassured by doctors in Jamaica that his sight would return, causing him to worry less about his job.

Mr. Calaco and his brother, Fransisco Calaco, both described the day, 7 March, 2006, that Mr. Diaz died.

They had initially thought Mr. Diaz had gone out with a friend but when he didn’t return home and friends said they hadn’t seen him, the two brothers and two other housemates began looking for Mr. Diaz, only to find him hanging from an ackee tree in the backyard.

Mr. Calaco later found a note address to him in the deceased’s bedroom, containing $100 cash. The note instructed Mr. Calaco to take the cash plus $400 that he was holding for Mr. Diaz and to borrow a further $500 from his employer. The note instructed him to use the $1,000 to pay a debt owed to a Mr. Bonny – a point the court heard no further evidence on.

A handwriting expert later concluded it was highly probable Mr. Diaz wrote the letter.

A police officer that inspected the scene said he found no marks of violence on the deceased’s body. The area under the tree did not look disturbed, he added.

A post mortem enquiry found the cause of death to be asphyxiation due to hanging. It found no evidence indicating Mr. Diaz had been involved in a struggle prior to his death.

Queen’s Coroner Margaret Ramsay-Hale presided over the hearing, the first of nine Coroner’s Court inquests planned for this week.