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Death Postponed: Lloyd Stanbury's chilling meeting with a gun

Entertainment lawyer recounts being shot by intruder

BY HG HELPS Editor-at-Large helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, September 30, 2012    

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This is the 31st in a series of close encounters with death by Jamaicans, some of them in prominent positions of the society.

JAMAICAN lawyer and international music business consultant Lloyd AW Stanbury knows what it's like to stare into the business end of a pistol.

Sixteen years ago the dreadlocked Stanbury's narrow escape from a gunman's fury forced him to rethink his approach to life and shake off the cloak of invincibility that he had been wrapped up in for a long time.

The thriving entrepreneur, who now lives in South Florida, has shaken off that experience and continues to unearth new ground in his mission to give reggae music a new lease on life.

"My most chilling experience occurred in April 1996 when my home was invaded by an armed robber at around 4:00 am while I was asleep in my bedroom," Stanbury related to the Jamaica Observer last week.

"I was awakened by the sound of footsteps across the floor. When I opened my eyes I could see the head of a man peeping in at me from my bedroom door. My immediate reaction was to say 'Who is that?', and a male voice answered, 'Me'.

"I realised then that I was in danger as there was an intruder in my house. As I tried to jump out of the bed I saw a flare of fire and heard a loud bang, and at the same time felt a piercing pain in my left leg," said Stanbury of being shot.

He said things happened so fast, he did not have time to think of anything other than to try to get away and call for help.

"I jumped out of the bed and realised that my left leg was broken, but I was still able to get to a nearby door leading to a balcony from my bedroom, and started shouting for help.

"My wife Janet was with me in bed at the time of the intrusion, but was apparently so frightened that she was transfixed in the bed until I shouted that she should run and take cover. She ran into her clothes closet. The gunman proceeded, after shooting me, to enter the closets in my room. He took my briefcase and my wife's handbag with the contents and made his escape. While outside on the balcony shouting for help I could see him running across my lawn and jumping over my front fence to make his escape," Stanbury said.

Later, as police investigated the crime that left the Stanburys badly shaken, in addition to the bullet wound inflicted on Lloyd, another, undischarged bullet was found on the floor of their bedroom.

Detectives theorised that the gunman might have tried to shoot at Stanbury again, but the pistol jammed and the shooter had to eject the bullet. The thought that he could have been shot twice reverberated in Stanbury's heart for years. The possibility of that second shot proving fatal made him perspire even more when he went into deep meditation.

Even more chilling for the former St Aloysius Primary School, Kingston College, the University of the West Indies, and Norman Manley Law School graduate, was the theory put forward by the police that there might have been collusion from the inside in respect of the robbery and shooting.

"The police investigations revealed that there was no forced entry to my home. I learned from this experience that one has to be extra careful about selecting the people you employ to work closely with you at home or in your business.

"I am convinced that someone working in my home at the time was either acting in collaboration with the intruder, or was very careless. I also learned that in Jamaica you are not safe, even within the confines of your bedroom in an uptown residential community," said Stanbury, who, although living outside of Jamaica for three years, visits his homeland regularly, primarily for meetings.

The violent incident, he said, was not the reason for his decision to relocate, as he continued to live in Kingston 13 years after the crime. Instead, he cites the negative trends in the music industry that have turned him off.

"I visit Jamaica almost every other month for business meetings. I decided to relocate, hopefully temporarily, because of the disunity, divisiveness, and maliciousness being promoted by certain prominent members of the local entertainment fraternity, and the lack of commitment and political will within Government to effectively address the structured development of our music industry.

"I relocated out of frustration and disappointment and not as a result of the violent attack on my life," said the entertainment attorney and artist manager, who has represented such top artists, music producers, and corporations as Robert Livingston, Super Cat, Half Pint, Freddie McGregor, Steely and Clevie, Da'Ville, Queen Ifrica, Busy Signal, Arrows Recording, Garnett Silk, and Ce'Cile.

His seven years spent at KC from 1967 to 1974, a time he described as having "the greatest impact on my development and personality", in between summer vacation visits to his grandmother in Port Maria, St Mary, prepared him for the rigours of life. Even during the time of the criminal invasion of his bedroom, his school teachings enabled him to confront the best of both worlds with levelheaded calmness and precision.

"I absolutely live by my high school motto "Fortis Cadere Cedere Non Potest," meaning "The Brave May Fall But Never Yield," he admitted, in reminiscing on a time that he grew up with people like Tyrone Downie, keyboardist with Bob Marley & the Wailers, who was his classmate and bus partner travelling home from school, and looking up to present entertainment great and fellow lawyer Kingsley Cooper of Pulse Entertainment, who was KC head boy while he was in third form.

Despite his dramatic experience, Stanbury said that he remains optimistic about Jamaica and its serious problem of crime, indiscipline and corruption.

"I am of the view that the vast majority of Jamaicans are hard-working, law-abiding citizens, and that more of us at home and abroad are now speaking out against the evils that prevent us from maximising our potential as a nation. We now need to convert our words into action," he said.

Some areas of dancehall music, he believes, have contributed to the violence that currently engulfs the society.

Jamaica's image has been stained even further in recent days, with the shooting death of a pregnant woman in St Thomas, other sporadic murders across the island, and the rape of three women and two girls in St James.

"I have no doubt that the demonic, vulgar, and violent lyrics that dominate much of our dancehall music today have had a very negative impact on our society as a whole and the advancement of our entertainment industry.

"One just has to take a closer look at the impact of Jamaican music and the reactions of persons in the wider global market to see how much damage is being done to 'Brand Jamaica' as a result of what I would call 'garbage lyrics'.

The father of three sons, who is president and chief executive of Jamaica Arts Development Foundation, Inc, is contemplating his next move, as he maps out the future with wife Janet, his Herbalife business partner.

His love for Jamaica has not waned, but he argues that some things need to change if Jamaica is to benefit from his expertise on a more consistent basis.

"I hope to return to live permanently in Jamaica as soon as I feel welcomed, but until then I continue to make my input to the development of the local music industry and the country from where I now reside.

"In recent years I have shifted my focus somewhat to the global music industry and its relationship with Jamaica, with much emphasis on Africa, which remains the largest market for Jamaican music. My recent activities include my engagement as a consultant by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation/UNESCO as a member of its international Pool of Experts in Culture and Governance.

"Since relocating from Jamaica I have worked in the music industries of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Seychelles, Kenya, St Vincent, and Belize. I am more convinced now than before that reggae needs Africa and Africa needs reggae. I think the people and Government of Jamaica should make a priority the development of closer trade relations between Jamaica and African countries," said the co-founder and former vice-chairman of the world's first all-reggae radio station, IRIE FM.

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