Merciless killers who beheaded mom, daughter get life in prison

Merciless killers who beheaded mom, daughter get life in prison

Senior staff reporter

Thursday, December 12, 2019

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HIGH Court Judge Justice Vivene Harris yesterday said her move to go beyond the maximum penalties prescribed by the sentencing guidelines in pronouncing judgement on the four men convicted for the death of a St Catherine mother and daughter in July of 2011 was buffered by several factors, including the fact that the women had been slaughtered with less dignity than animals butchered in the island's abattoirs.

The convicted four, Adrian Campbell, Roshane Goldson, Fabian Smith, and Kemar Riley were brought before the courts in November to face charges along with another accused Sanja Ducally for the horrific chopping, shooting and beheading of the 18-year-old Joeith Lynch and 40-year-old Charmaine Rattray. Campbell, Goldson and Smith pleaded guilty to non-capital murder just ahead of the trial on November 6. Riley and Ducally, however, opted to go to trial with Ducally walking free following a successful no-case submission by his lawyers. Riley was subsequently found guilty by a jury of seven in late November.

Justice Harris yesterday handed down the sentences in the aftermath of a victim impact statement from a relative of the deceased, which described the havoc wreaked on the family who had to separate and were driven into silence because of threats issued to them in the aftermath of the killings.

“To say these women were butchered would be an unjust comment about butchers in Jamaica because even animals are treated more humanely than the two women who were savaged that night,” she said, noting that the ordeal the women suffered that night “did not end in their houses” as their heads were carried elsewhere and “discarded like garbage”.

Before handing down the sentences, which cumulatively amount to 186 years, Justice Harris noted that as it relates to the defendants who pleaded guilty, the Criminal Justice Act makes provisions that where a defendant pleads guilty to the offence of murder the court may reduce any sentence it may impose by up to 25 per cent. She, however, pointed out that the legislation also provides for the court to use its discretion by considering a number of factors relating to the case.

“I have taken the liberty of looking at a number of cases coming out of the Court of Appeal, and I have not seen any case in the Court of Appeal where two persons were killed and beheaded, so it is clear that in this multiple murder the normal range of sentencing starting at about 25 years, going up to as much as 45 years,” she said.

The judge listed some 10 aggravating factors that were applicable to all the defendants, including the fact that the murders were premeditated; were a reprisal; the number of weapons used, including the guns which were never recovered; the number of men involved (eight or nine); the way in which the assailants gained access to the house; the fact that the women were in bed; the ages of the victims (40 and 18 years of age); the extreme violence perpetrated against the women; the beheadings; the disposal of their heads and the impact of the crime on the community of Lauriston and the wider community.

“It is my view that the murders were meant to create terror” and “send a chilling message of informer fi dead” to insulate criminals to continue the culture of silence, allowing them to continue their reign of terror, she outlined.

Yesterday, Justice Harris in the pin-drop silence of the courtroom sentenced Campbell to life imprisonment at hard labour. He will serve a minimum 44 years before being eligible for parole on both counts of the indictment. The sentences will run concurrently. Goldson, the cousin of Lynch, was also slapped with a life sentence at hard labour and will be eligible for parole after a minimum of 46 years. Smith also faces life at hard labour and will serve a minimum 44 years before being eligible for parole. Riley was slapped with life imprisonment at hard labour, and will serve a minimum 52 years before being eligible for parole.

Justice Harris, in addressing Campbell, said: “Duress is no defence to murder…the fear for your own life or family will not acquit you of the crime and punishment you will receive. You said you had no choice but I believe you did in the friends you chose.”

To Goldson she said: “You were given a knife and a machete and told by the 'general' to kill the women, you used violence on the diseased (Lynch), you chopped her five times and she screamed out your name; you always had a choice.”

To Smith she said: “I have looked at your letter of apology, I have taken into consideration your age at the time. While the community said positive things about you, they felt you should be imprisoned because you should have run away from the moment you were told of the plans (to kill the women)”.

To Riley she said: “You were given a firearm which you used to shoot Lynch. There will be no discount in your case. You shot and killed Charmaine; I am adding 20 years to the starting point of 45 years.” Riley was also given a full discount for the time already spent in custody.

Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn yesterday described the case “as one of the most heinous cases I have prosecuted”.

“It was a consistently sustained sinister execution and total breach of the human rights of Joeith Lynch and her mother. It was premeditated and clearly done to send a message of intimidation and fear to the rest of the community,” she said.

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