Christine Hewitt's widower elated at verdict, but says murder trial has ruined him
BY DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE Sunday Observer staff reporter email@example.com
THE Gordon brothers have been freed of murder charges in the death of popular television personality Christine Hewitt. But David and Worthsworth Gordon are not in the mood to celebrate, as they say seven years of their lives have been stolen by men who were more interested in career-building than in catching the person or persons responsible for Hewitt's death.
The experience has been an eye-opener for the men who are now questioning a process that dragged them to court and through the mud, without even a shred of evidence as to their guilt.
"I was elated by the verdict, but it came as no surprise," 32-year-old David, widower of the deceased, told the Sunday Observer in an exclusive interview on Friday. "At no time I thought I had a reason to be worried. Hearing the words 'not guilty' and 'you are free to go' was like a sweet song in my ears."
Both men were freed in the St Catherine Circuit Court in Spanish Town last Thursday after Justice Leighton Pusey instructed the panel of 12 jurors to return a formal verdict of not guilty because the prosecution had not satisfied the ingredients, in law, to establish that a murder had been committed.
"We don't know if the vehicle caught fire on accident or [if it was] deliberately [set ablaze]," Pusey said.
In dismissing the men, Pusey told Worthsworth that there was no reason for him to have been charged in the first place. He told David that the prosecution did not prove its case against him.
"Since then, the words 'you are free to go' constantly ring in my ears since I heard them from the mouth of Justice Leighton Pusey and I can't help but think what do those five words mean to me," said David Gordon.
"And my question to that statement is, free to go do what? Pick up from where I left off seven years ago? Plan my life all over again? Try to build a foundation for myself and my 13-year-old daughter who watched her father being chewed up by the system for more than half of her life?" Gordon questioned.
"Also, I would like to know why it took the State seven years for me to hear those words, when I should never have been in a position where I was not free to go," he said.
The brothers were arrested and charged with Hewitt's murder three years after her body was found on the Freedom main road in St Catherine on June 29, 2006. The body was discovered in a burnt-out sport utility vehicle and identified by the wedding band that the then 24-year-old Gordon had placed on the finger of the 42-year-old talk show host a year and four months earlier.
"I was dragged out of the arms of my loved ones, charged and thrown in jail, was abused by the authorities when they didn't even have evidence," a somewhat angry Gordon said. "I had to strip naked, bend over and endure searches numerous times because they were searching for contraband. Most of the times you going in and coming out [of the cell] you had strip searches."
The brothers were again remanded at the Spanish Town lock-up during the trial.
Gordon said he has been asking whether the police fabricated evidence to tie him to the death of his wife simply because he was 18 years younger than Hewitt.
"These seven years of my life I will never be able to live them again. I did not get the chance of a free man to live them the way I wanted to," Gordon said. "I am in a worse position now than I was seven years ago financially. I lost everything I had in my name to keep up with legal fees, among other things I had to deal with, as they relate to this case.
"Luckily, I had lawyers who were very considerate and made special payment arrangements to accommodate me. And after all this, there is not one member of any organisation of the State who is willing to come forward and address this," he said.
Last week in court the defence claimed that since the brothers were arrested, the cops who worked on the case were promoted.
"This leaves a number of questions in my mind," Gordon said, asking whether it did not matter to the police that he and his brother would be spending a significant portion of their lives in prison if the cops' testimonies held up in court.
Gordon thanked Justice Pusey for the high standards he maintained throughout the trial, as he had been before other judges over the past four years who accepted the police's excuses as to why it was taking them so long to produce the necessary information for the prosecutor.
Justice Pusey, Gordon explained, made it known to them that he wouldn't accept any more excuses for the case not being heard.
"I also thank Ms Sanchia Burrell for going out on a limb, leaving no stones unturned to prove the Crown's case, thus giving my lawyers, Mr Michael Deans and Pierre Rogers, the opportunity to prove our innocence beyond any shadow of a doubt," the widower said.
"I must say that I couldn't be happier with the performance of my lawyers in court. It was nothing short of professionalism of the highest standard. It was the Lord Himself who had been speaking through them on our behalf. The questions from their lips were like a two-edged sword piercing through more than a dozen witnesses who took the stand on the State's behalf, called by Ms Burrell, none of whom proved to be credible," Gordon said.
But even as he attempts to move on with his life, Gordon believes the case will continue to haunt him.
"Whenever you fill out an application form... there is a section which asks 'have you ever been charged with a criminal offence?' It does not ask if you have ever been convicted of a criminal offence.
"The case has wrecked my life. It has affected my character, it has caused me to have very low self-esteem, it caused me to not be able to reach certain goals I would have as a young and ambitious man, had it not been in my way. The State has chewed me up, spit me out and all it has said to me is 'you are free to go'," he said.
While the experience has been overwhelming and life-changing, Gordon is thanking God.
"My entire life has changed," he said, explaining that he could not have planned his life the way he really wanted to because of the possibility that he would have spent at least 25 years in prison, had he been convicted.
"I am one of those who do not believe in the justice system here, and now that I have been through it I know that it is a thin line between a person going to prison and being free after he has been charged, regardless of his innocence. Had I not been in the position I would not be able to understand," he said.
Gordon used the interview to reiterate that he did not kill his wife.
"Honestly, I cannot pinpoint what happened or who killed Christine. But there are a number of things that I informed the police about, quite a number of things that happened prior to her death, and if they had followed any of those leads they probably would have been in a better position to bring the culprits responsible for her death to justice," he said.
One such incident, he said, occurred two months before Hewitt's death. Three men came to their house asking for her to do an event. "She was not home at the time, but had gone to Trelawny. She was just entering into [representational] politics," he said.
"The men then left, only to return two days later while Gordon was again home alone. They again asked for Hewitt and was again told she was not in. Gordon said he then heard one of the men expressing anger and saying that she was taking them for fools.
"The following morning when I was coming out of the house and was about to close the grille a man pushed me down from behind and held a gun to my head. I didn't see his face, but I recognised his voice and realised that it was the same person that came there days before. A next man stepped over me, went into the house, searched the house and came out without taking anything at all," Gordon recalled.
"The man said to the one that was holding the gun to my head, 'mek we f... him up', but the guy said 'For what? We don't get what we come for'."
Gordon said the men left and he called his wife and informed her of the incident, then reported it to the police.
"She decided she wasn't coming back home, so she booked a room at Knutsford Court Hotel for two weeks. That was in March 2006. And then she rented a place, which is where she was living when she passed," he said.
"I reported the matter. So if the police had taken that report seriously and made any serious attempt they would probably have been more successful in their case. As a matter of fact, probably today Christine might not even be dead," Gordon said, even as he acknowledged that the court heard that DNA tests done on the burnt remains found in the vehicle suggested that the body was Hewitt's.
"I'm not saying those persons are the ones, I don't know, but I'm saying it's a possibility. And there were many other persons that she had confrontations and disagreements with. I mean, people in the music industry, people in politics, and so on. I gave the police a lot of information, and there was never a time when the police needed to contact me and couldn't find me. From the start of the case up until this very moment," he said.