Getaway driver had breakfast while awaiting start of church service

Getaway driver had breakfast while awaiting start of church service

Senior staff reporter

Friday, February 19, 2021

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Leon Hines, the man accused of driving the getaway car on January 31 after 51-year-old Andrea Lowe-Garwood was shot multiple times at a church on Market Street in Trelawny, was still digesting the breakfast he had eaten in the moments while awaiting the morning worship at Agape Christian Fellowship to begin.

In the facts of the case outlined to the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston yesterday morning by a representative from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Hines, who pleaded guilty to only two of the six counts on the indictment in which he has been charged, admitted to being the one who rented the motor car on January 29, and to driving it from Montego Bay to the church where Lowe-Garwood was murdered.

According to the 23-year-old Hines, who is a storekeeper, he drove the rented car to the church based on a request.

He said, upon arriving there and learning that the service had not yet begun, he drove elsewhere, for food, before returning to the church where an unsuspecting Lowe-Garwood was a member.

There, he said, he parked in a lane and waited. He said some minutes passed before he heard five gunshots coming from the direction of the church, followed by a sixth, a while later.

After careening away from the church Hines headed to Rose Heights in Montego Bay. He said shortly after arriving in Montego Bay he headed out “to the country” and saw via a cellphone news alert that Lowe-Garwood had been shot dead.

Hines said in an attempt to cover up his role in the murder he called the owner of the car and told him that when he woke up that morning he realised that the vehicle had been stolen. He later told the owner that he found the car down the road from his house and was told to report it to the police.

He said that on his way to the police he stopped and threw away his own phone because he did not want the cops to find the evidence of calls he had received, as well as the bag in which the murder weapon had been concealed.

It was while at that spot that he was collared by the police, who took him to the Montego Bay Police Station where he continued to lie that the car he'd rented had been stolen.

He however came clean after the police produced the phone he had thrown away and heeded their advice to “cooperate”.

Hines, who was nabbed along with 29-year-old Javan Garwood, the murder victim's stepson, who is otherwise called Janoy, and Dwight Bingham, had originally been charged with murder illegal possession of firearm, accessory before the fact to murder, accessory after the fact to murder, conspiracy to murder and misprision of felony.

Hines pleaded guilty to illegal possession of firearm and accessory after the fact to murder.

He however struck a plea deal with the Crown in which he has committed to assisting with evidence relating to the other two accused. The Crown, for its part, agreed to offer no evidence in respect to the other four counts on the indictment. If Hines, however, reneges on supplying the information as per the agreement it will be voided and he will stand trial for all the counts.

The media, however, have been barred from disclosing the details as told to the police regarding the involvement of Garwood and Bingham on the basis that it could prejudice their cases, which are being heard before the Falmouth Parish Court in Trelawny.

Journalists were cautioned against reporting anything other than what Hines said in relation to himself in the matter. The court ordered that aspects of his testimony regarding the other two men, their actions, and utterances in relation to the incident, should not be reported.

Lowe-Garwood, a National Commercial Bank employee, was in a worship session at her church on the Sunday in question when a man who had been posing as a member of the congregation shot her several times in the upper body. She was taken to hospital where she died while undergoing treatment.

Hines is to be sentenced on March 12. The court has, in the meantime, requested a social enquiry report and a police antecedent report for him.

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