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Tears in court

Dexter Pottinger's siblings speak about financial hardships since brother's death; killer gets 12 years

BY TANESHA MUNDLE
Observer staff reporter
mundlet@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, May 25, 2019

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THE three distraught siblings of the late fashion designer Dexter Pottinger wept openly yesterday during the sentencing hearing for his killer, while outlining the pain and hardship that the family is now enduring, including the possibility of losing their loved one's home where they now reside.

The eldest, Lackeisha Aarons, who cried in the Home Circuit Court as she read the victims' report, while flanked by her two siblings, Danta Aarons and Ta-shan Adams, said the family is not only struggling to cope with Pottinger's death, but also suffering from anxiety attacks and depression, and has been going through severe financial difficulties.

“Dexter was the backbone of our family in every sense of the word. He supported us financially, and emotionally. Since he has been gone, life has changed in ways we've never imagined could've been possible.

“My mother has been suffering from depression ever since his passing. She has been suffering from serious anxiety attacks to the point where she has only been able to go up the staircase of Dexter's house once,” she said.

“Since Mr Brown murdered him in cold blood, we weren't able to make our bill payments, which led to both our electricity and water being turned off often,” she said, stressing that her brother was the family's main breadwinner.

“We are now close to losing Dexter's house where we now stay, due to outstanding mortgage payments, because we haven't been able to sustain our own homes without his support,” Lackeisha added.

Despite acknowledgement of the hardship and sorrows, the siblings nevertheless spoke glowing about their brother whom they said had been an inspiration to them and had drilled in them to always aim for the sky.

“Growing up, Dexter was the big brother every young siblings absolutely needed. He was supportive, a nurturer who played the daddy role alongside our mother in the absence of our father.

“Dexter ensured we were well taken care of. You, yourself Romario (Brown) – the convicted killer – can attest to his helpful nature. After all, Dexter was present to offer you help when he bailed you from jail the day you took his life,” she said, while looking pointedly at Brown.

Before ending the report Lackeisha urged the judge to give Brown the maximum penalty, a sentence that would match the damage that had been done not only to her family but to the fashion industry, which had lost a legend.

Brown, who held his head down while the report was being read, appeared quite affected by the siblings' tears. At one point it seemed too much for him and he reached inside a pocket, took out a small Bible and started reading it.

The 23-year-old tattoo artiste and steel worker was arrested in September 2017, after Pottinger's body was found on his own bedroom floor at his Yarico Place home in Kingston 20, with 25 stabs wounds on August 29.

Following the murder, Brown stole Pottinger's car, a television and a watch.

According to the prosecutor, Brown in his caution statement said he stabbed the designer after he came out on the balcony naked with his penis erect and made sexual advances at him while he was cutting up some marijuana.

The court heard that Pottinger met Brown a week earlier while he was in Clock Tower Plaza in Half-Way-Tree, St Andrew, advertising his tattoo business and they exchanged numbers and on August 29, he received a call from Pottinger and went to his home.

However, while on his way he was arrested for having a knife in his possession. He called Pottinger, who went and bailed him and carried him home.

Brown, who claimed he did not know that Dexter was gay, also said in his caution statement that after he stabbed Pottinger he took a shower and took up his watch, television and left in his car.

“B.... bwoy fi dead and mi a bwoy wey move from 0 to 1,000 in no minutes,” the court was told that Brown said in his caution statement.

Before the sentencing was handed down yesterday, the court heard, in a community report, that Brown was seen in his community as a well-behaved and well-mannered individual who did not associate himself with persons of questionable character and that they had never seen him behaving aggressively.

They said that they were shocked when they heard of his involvement in Pottinger's death, as he had also been charged in the death of a young woman. Community members also described the father of a five-year-old son as a “gallis”. However, one community member said he had fallen from a tree when he was younger and since then had begun acting as if he had a mental illness.

Brown's father, in the social enquiry report, described his son as being mentally disturbed and said that he had sought treatment for him but it was not completed because his mother had come for him.

He further indicated that when his son was not on medication he acted bizarrely, as he begged the court for leniency.

However, the probation officer in the report said there was no evidence that Brown had a mental disorder, and recommended that he be imprisoned.

Brown's lead attorney, Donald Bryan, during his plea in mitigation, asked Justice Lorna Shelly Williams to bear in mind that his client was still a promising young man who had more to contribute to society, and that he had indicated his intention to plead guilty from an early stage.

He also implored the judge to consider the circumstance under which the incident occurred, noting that his client had been fearful when Pottinger reportedly made sexual advances towards him, causing him to act out of anger.

The judge, in handing down sentence, pointed out that she would not be following the sentencing guidelines, which had a starting point of five years for manslaughter, which attracts a maximum of 10 years, because of the circumstances.

She, however, indicated that she would take into account his good community and social enquiry reported, his age and the length of time spent in custody.

But the judge said she also had to take into account the aggravating factors such as the fact that he showered after killing Pottinger, stole his belongings and the number of stabs wounds he had inflicted.

While explaining that Brown was given a 25 per cent discount on all of the sentences for his plea, a further reduction of four months for his good reports and an additional reduction for time spent in custody, she then sentenced Brown to 12 years in prison for manslaughter, one year for simple larceny and four years for larceny from the dwelling.

However, she ruled that the two lesser charges will run concurrently with the manslaughter charge.

Following the sentencing, Pottinger's siblings said they were not pleased as they had expected Brown to get more prison time. They also said they did not believe his account of the incident, as their brother was a professed homosexual who did not hide his orientation.

Adams also disclosed that when she visited the home after her brother was killed there had been no blood on the balcony and that a neighbour had overheard one person saying to another, “Dog, you naa clean up the blood?”

However, she said they will accept the sentence and try to carry on, although their lives will never again be the same.

Attorney Alexander Shaw also represented Brown.


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