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Ex-cop’s lawyer denies claim he hounded Jhaneel Goulbourne’s family

BY PAUL HENRY Crime/Court Desk co-ordinator henryp@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, October 28, 2012    

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ONE of Rushon Hamilton’s attorneys yesterday strongly denied a claim by 14-year-old Jhaneel Goulbourne’s sisters that the former cop hounded her family in an attempt to have the carnal abuse case against him discontinued.

The allegation was made on Friday by Goulbourne’s sisters, Lisa and Colline, during an interview with the Jamaica Observer, a day after jurors in the Home Circuit Court convicted the 24-year-old Hamilton for murdering the teen to prevent her from giving evidence against him in the carnal abuse case.

Jhaneel Goulbourne was abducted from the gate at her home on October 24, 2008. She has not been seen or heard from since.

Hamilton allegedly had sex with the teen on October 4, 2008 at the barracks of the Elletson Road Police Station in East Kingston where he lived at the time.

The matter was reported six days later and, according to Lisa, Hamilton called incessantly in an effort to persuade them to have the case dropped. At one point, Lisa said, he even met with her, telling her that he had been advised that the charge could go away. When that did not work, the women said, Hamilton sent a man to their home in an effort to persuade the family.

“From we made the report, every night Hamilton call back-to-back and every time he called we call CISOCA,” Lisa said, using the acronym of the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse. “And I told CISOCA that Hamilton was calling my phone.”

Yesterday, the head of the St Andrew branch of CISOCA, Superintendent Gladys Brown, said that in the interest of client confidentiality she could not confirm or deny that a report was made to the centre.

On Friday, Lisa said that on one occasion, Hamilton called her under the pretence that he was someone else, telling her that Hamilton had a “thing to put on the table”.

“From I heard the voice I knew it was Hamilton so I said, ‘Tell your friend to talk to my lawyer and put the thing on the table’.”

She alleged that on Hamilton’s request, she met with him at the gas station at the Harbour View roundabout. Hamilton, she said, was driving a white Toyota van with tinted windows and a sliding door.

“‘The pickney can drop the case’,” Lisa said Hamilton told her, while informing her that a man told him that the case could be dropped.

Hamilton, she said, also wanted to know who were the police officers in the room at the Elletson Road Police Station when Jhaneel was giving her statement, and the identity of the “brown lady” who followed her to the station.

The circumstances that led to the paths of Hamilton and the Goulbournes being crossed were explained to jurors during the fourweek trial. Evidence was led that Jhaneel Goulbourne, whose father died in 1998, was taken to the Harbour View Police Station for counselling. It was there that she came into contact with Hamilton, with whom she became friends.

“The police, Hamilton, was in a position of trust,” senior prosecutor Lisa Palmer-Hamilton said during her address to jurors, “and who else to break that trust but the one closest to you?”

Some time after, the teen started receiving counselling, Lisa — who was living in Bull Bay at the time — visited her at the family home. Jhaneel was sitting in her bed.

Lisa said she could tell that all was not well with her little sister.

According to Lisa, she asked Jhaneel “What happened to you?”

The teen, she said, replied: “Nothing. I need a credit.

”Lisa said she gave Jhaneel some money to purchase the calling card.

“How you look so?” Lisa said she asked again.

“Nothing,” Jhaneel replied.

Lisa said she persisted: “Talk to me, man,” to which Jhaneel replied, “Boy, Lisa, me can’t tell you because me no want you get yourself inna trouble.”

Lisa said in response she asked Jhaneel: “What kind a trouble mi a go get me self inna? Tell me. Anybody at the station a trouble you?”

According to Lisa, Jhaneel sat unresponsive, despite several attempts to have her open up.

“Okay, when you ready, talk to me,” Lisa said she told her sister.

Lisa told the Sunday Observer that at that point she should have pressed her sister further for more information.

But yesterday, attorney Peter Champagnie dismissed the Goulbourne sisters’ allegations.

“That is being refuted. The only conversation I’m aware between them — and it came out in trial — was when there was some assertion that he interfered with her... and in that context he indicated his surprise to the sister and said that he would take out a lawsuit... There is a strong denial where that is concerned,” Champagnie said.

During the trial, a witness, whose name the court requested be withheld, testified that Hamilton called him in October 2008 asking him to find out what time of night the teen would be leaving her yard. The witness said he met Hamilton and told him that the girl would be on the road at 10 o’clock. At that point, Hamilton turned to a man in his Toyota van and said they could “tek har weh” before Friday, which would be too late.

According to a statement given by Kemar Johnson, which had to be read into evidence because he was murdered before the trial, Hamilton visited him in St Mary — around October 22, 2008 — asking him to find a place to dump a body. He said Hamilton told him that he was in trouble and needed to get rid of somebody and offered to give him cash and two cellphones for his assistance. He declined the offer. According to the statement, Hamilton later returned with a man whom he introduced to Johnson as his “badman friend” and a “real killer”.

Jhaneel was standing at her gate with a friend when a white Toyota van with tinted windows and sliding doors pulled up and a man snatched her at gunpoint.

Another witness testified during the trial that Hamilton told him following daily devotion that he and other men took the teen out to sea where he shot her and dumped her body, weighted with cinder blocks, into the sea. According to the witness, Hamilton said the “pickney” begged him not to kill her, saying that she would not testify against him in the carnal abuse case.

Hamilton professed his innocence in an unsworn statement from the prisoner’s dock and said that he was being framed. However, jurors found him guilty. He’s to be sentenced on December 17. The prosecution is expected to ask for the death penalty. His lawyers have said they will appeal the conviction.

The family has expressed satisfaction with the verdict, but are split on whether to forgive Hamilton.

“I’m not going to play the hypocrite and say that I forgive him,” Lisa said. “I haven’t reached the stage when I can say I forgive him.”

Colline, on the other hand, said that it was through the grace of God that she is able to forgive Hamilton.

Their mother, Andrea, seemed to be struggling with the question. When asked if she could forgive Hamilton, she said no. However, the mother, whose pain was evident, said in an uncertain way toward the end of the interview that she could, eventually.

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