News

Irwin in fear

Residents outraged at vicious rape of five, but worried about safety

BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, September 27, 2012    

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IRWIN POINT, St James — Fear, outrage and condemnation aptly described the mood yesterday of residents in the middle-class community of Irwin Point, where five females, including an eight-year-old, were robbed and viciously raped on Monday night.

“I have never ever come across such a horrific crime committed to one family in my lifetime. And because I am familiar with the children who were among those attacked, it hurts me deeply. The whole community is in mourning,” said Ouida King, president of the Irwin Point Citizens’ Association.

Another female resident echoed similar sentiments. “It is just my daughter and I who live nearby and we are afraid to come home at nights. After 6:00 pm we are afraid to come in,” said the woman.

The eight-year-old child, two other girls — aged 14 and 16 — and two adults were raped by two gunmen who are now being sought by the St James police.

The group of family members who were brutally attacked were at home Monday about 10:00 pm when their ordeal started. Two babies who were at home at the time were not hurt.

An armed man reportedly gained access into the house after he held on to one of the family members by her hair, through a window, and threatened to kill her if his accomplice was not let inside the house. She reluctantly complied.

Residents said they were told that after the two gained entry into the house, they started to ransack the rooms and demanded that the occupants hand over their cellular phones.

After one of the female occupants protested, one of the attackers allegedly used his gun to strike her on her nose and the back of her head. “They beat her up,” the Jamaica Observer was told.

The robbers who took the phones and other valuables, including laptop computers, then tied up the females and took them one-at-a-time over to a nearby abandoned lot and proceeded to rape them.

“They (victims) are in a bad way. They are going to need a lot of help. But the community is here behind them,” King told the Observer yesterday.

She said the victims told her that after they were raped, they contemplated “coming to my house but they were afraid that the rapists were still lying in wait for them, so they went back inside their house and locked themselves in”.

Eventually two of them went knocking on the door of Claudel Robinson — secretary of the St James Combined Citizens’ Association and Neighbourhood Watch Association — who lives about 200 yards away, the Observer was told.

“When these two women came ringing on my bell 3 o’clock the morning, at first I was reluctant to open my door but did so after I spoke to them through the window and they identified themselves,” Robinson recalled.

She said the Government should make more service vehicles available to the police, pointing out that she was not satisfied with the response time of the Granville police, who were summoned following the bizarre incident.

But like several members of the community who converged near the victims’ house, Robinson lamented the need for owners of premises to bush their lots.

“One of the victims told me that one of the rapists told them that they (rapists) have been observing them. They have been stalking them for a while. But nobody knew because you can’t see through the bushes,” the citizens’ association president said.

About three years ago, some of the rape victims were said to have been robbed at gunpoint when gunmen broke into their home.

Meanwhile, Everton Jackson, chairman of the St James Peace Management Initiative (PMI) has joined the growing number of persons and organisations in condemning the gruesome incident.

“The attack and subsequent rape of five females, including an eight-year-old in Irwin, St James has come as a shock to all decent and lawabiding Jamaicans. The Peace Management Initiative of St James condemns this heinous crime against our women and asks that no stone is left unturned by the police to bring the perpetrators to justice,” a release from the PMI office read.

“This cruel, heartless and vicious act reveals the cold-bloodedness and mercilessness that have consumed the criminal elements in the parish. The PMI pledges to continue its intervention strategies through mediation, advocacy, training, therapeutic programmes, among others in its quest for peace management in the parish. The organisation will do everything in its power to support the victims of this odious crime.”

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