News

Peter King murdered

BY OLIVIA LEIGH CAMPBELL Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, March 21, 2006    

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Chairman of the Trade Board and Special Envoy of Jamaica, Ambassador Peter King, was yesterday found dead, his body wrapped in a sheet in the bedroom of his St Andrew home.

King's killer, police said last night, stabbed him to death, slit his throat, and mutilated his body, although up to press time investigators could identify neither a suspect, a murder weapon nor a motive for the killing.

"The only thing that can be said now is that there is no evidence of any breaking-in or out," Senior Superintendent George Quallo of the St Andrew central division told reporters at the scene yesterday morning.

According to the Constabulary Communication Network (CCN), at about 8:00 am the police were summoned to 11a Waterloo Road, a sprawling premises at the end of a tree-lined driveway off one of St Andrew's busiest streets.

The call was made by the office manager for Peter King and Associates, Ambassador King's international trade and project development firm, who tried in vain to gain entry to the building and later surmised that something was awry.

When, at about 9:00 am, the police entered King's house, which shares the same compound as his business, they found the ambassador's body inside his second-floor bedroom.

Two men who were said to be sleeping in separate rooms at the time when the police arrived were being questioned by the police, but according to Detective Sergeant Jubert Llewellyn of the CCN, they were not detained as suspects.

Shortly before midday, as news of the murder spread, associates, colleagues, friends and family began to gather at the scene, which was cordoned off by police investigators. Among the onlookers were Political Ombudsman Rev Herro Blair, advisor to the local government ministry Ann Shirley and members of staff of the Trade Board.

Inside number 11A, senior investigators, including head of the Flying Squad Deputy Superintendent of Police Cornwall 'Bigga' Ford, the Organised Crime Investigation Department's Denzil Frater, and Deputy Commissioner of Police Les Green spent hours sifting through evidence, including several videos, and interviewing members of King's staff, some of whom left the premises later looking distraught and in grief.

Ambassador Peter King, whose father Rev Canon ROC King was known for his work with Boys' Town, began his public service career in the 1960s in the Jamaica High Commission in London. Soon afterwards, he became a personal assistant to the then minister of trade and industry Robert Lightbourne, and in the 1970s to his successor, a young P J Patterson.

In the 1980s, King served as deputy high commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Guyana, and in the 1990s was a lead representative of behalf of the Caricom Regional Negotiating Machinery for market access in the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) negotiations.

King, an authority on the textiles and apparel industry, served as Caribbean co-ordinator on the Central American and Caribbean Textile and Apparel Council, but also lent his negotiating skills to a host of other areas, including agriculture, tourism and manufacturing.

"He was a vital part of this ministry," said Science, Commerce and Technology Minister Philip Paulwell, under whose authority the Trade Board falls. "The entire ministry is in total shock... in fact, Ambassador King was supposed to be at a meeting this morning, and it was very strange for him not to be there."

Senator Delano Franklyn, junior minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, said: "Ambassador Peter King has been a long-standing representative of Jamaica, but what stands out in my mind is the fact that he was one of the foremost thinkers on matters relating to the repositioning of Jamaica in the area of manufacturing, specifically and particularly as it relates to the textile and apparel industry."

Government service aside, King devoted much of his life to supporting and promoting the arts in Jamaica, and was a known patron of the local art scene.

"He had an insatiable appetite for all things Jamaican," recalled his childhood friend and head of the Sugar Corporation of Jamaica, Alan Rickards, who arrived at the scene just before midday. "Peter was a connoisseur of the arts, someone who deeply appreciated the need for this country to protect and develop its arts.

He was a human being that reached into every aspect of the life and culture of this country... as we say 'him heavy'. This was a Jamaican we cannot reproduce."

King is survived by his wife Jean Marguerite Lopez and son Julian. He was 64.

campbello@jamaicaobserver.com

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