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Trevor Berbick's nephew found guilty of his murder

BY EVERARD OWEN Observer correspondent

Friday, December 21, 2007    

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Buff Bay, Portland - The family of slain world heavyweight boxing champion Trevor Berbick broke down in tears yesterday afternoon after a 12-member jury returned a gulity verdict against his nephew, Harold Berbick, in the Portland Circuit Court in this small seaside town on the island's north-eastern shore.

The jury also found Harold Berbick's accomplice, Kenton Gordon, guilty of manslaughter in the October 2006 killing of the boxer who became the first Jamaican to hold a world heavyweight title when he scored a 12-round unanimous decision over Pinklon Thomas in March 1986 to lift the World Boxing Council (WBC) belt.

Berbick was found dead near his gate in Norwich, Portland two miles west of Port Antonio, on the morning of October 28. He had large wounds to the back of his head.

The jury deliberated for one hour and 24 minutes before returning the verdict after hearing summations from Crown Counsel Gerald Taylor; defence lawyers Carl McDonald and Keith Bishop; and presiding High Court judge Justice Christine McDonald.

Both convicted men were remanded in custody by Justice McDonald for sentencing January 11, 2008 at the Home Circuit Court in Kingston. However, defence lawyers said that they are going to appeal the verdict, as they have enough grounds to do so.

During his summation, Taylor displayed the weapons - a piece of pipe and a crow bar - that were used to inflict blows to Berbick's head.

The graphic images proved too much for the late boxer's sisters who broke down in tears.

When defence attorney McDonald introduced the same pipe in his summation, Berbick's daughters screamed out "Murder, murder" as they pointed to the accused in the dock.

The two accused gave statements from the dock, but the Crown used their caution statements, as well as sworn statements by witnesses, the police and a justice of peace.

The defence sought to discredit the police investigations, arguing that their clients gave statements under duress. The statements given by the accused from the dock differed from the caution statements collected by the police.

During the trial, Harold Berbick said that he hit Trevor Berbick after the boxer threw two stones at him.

Gordon, in his statement from the dock, said "I did not intend to hurt him and kill him".

When the verdict was announced, Trevor Berbick's widow, children, sisters, his brother and his wife cried and hugged in court.

"I feel that justice has been served," said the late boxer's sister, Beverlee Besley. "It is not a very happy occasion for me because when a terrible tragedy like this has occurred it always saddens one. But under the circumstances, if you commit a crime, if you murder someone, then you must expect to be punished."

The experience, she added, was extremely painful and traumatic.

The boxer's widow, Nadine, expressed a similar view. "It is wrong to murder someone, justice has been served," she said. "He should not have died the way he did."

Before winning the WBC title in 1986, Trevor Berbick rose to prominence by becoming the last boxer to fight boxing legend Muhammad Ali and beating him in 1981.

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