The cop who escaped the gallows for killing a mechanic

Sunday, December 22, 2013    

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PRIOR to 1988 when Jamaica laid off the hangman, one of the few to escape the noose after being convicted for murder, was Solomon Beckford, a 28-year-old policeman at the time of the incident in 1983.

His conviction for the murder of Chester Barnes, a mechanic who was shot and killed at Greenvale Park, in Mandeville, Manchester on March 8, 1983 and the subsequent death sentence in the Home Circuit in 1985, was quashed and set aside by the United Kingdom Privy Council. For defying the odds, he can thank his attorneys — Frank Phipps, QC and Kay Bennett-Sherman, with the assistance of English lawyers at the Privy Council.

It was the prosecution's case before Justice Lensley Wolfe (now retired chief justice and chairman of the Public Service Commission) that a party of policemen went to Barnes' home on the day in question and that a shot was fired at Barnes while he was running. It was further alleged that Barnes jumped over a wall and ran into a pig pen where he was chased and killed in cold blood while he had his hands in the air.

Evidence on behalf of the prosecution was...

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Next week: The Portland Poison Case

Sybil E Hibbert is a veteran journalist and retired court reporting specialist. She is also the wife of Retired ACP Isadore 'Dick' Hibbert, rated among the top Jamacan detectives of his time. Send comments to





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