Night of savagery

Night of savagery

Three of five accused of killing and beheading mom and daughter tormented by memories

Senior staff reporter

Thursday, November 07, 2019

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JOEITH Lynch, 18, and her mother Charmaine Rattray were not total strangers to the group of about eight or nine marauding gunmen who in July 2011 shot and hacked them to death before beheading them. But the 'memory' of the savagery of that night was enough to drive three of the five to confess their involvement, claiming that it was either they carry out the brutal crimes or be killed.

Caution statements entered on behalf of three of the five who yesterday pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston at the beginning of the trial, detailed the moments leading up to the horrific crimes and the days following, claiming they have been tormented by memories of the incident.

“I got involved in it though I couldn't do nothing about it. Either I was involved or I would be killed. Is not something that I wishfully wanted to take part of. I know I was dealing with some serious people. It was either I go or I die,” Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn read from one of the statements.

According to the accused, he was called and told that the two were to die because they had been witnesses to the death of Scott Thomas (another individual in the area who was killed shortly before) and “them talk too much”.

He said late that night about nine of them, all members of the notorious Klansman Gang, went to the house in Lauriston, St Catherine, where he heard one female say “I did nothing” twice after the door was kicked off, followed by Lynch crying for help and shouting the name of one of the accused who was known to her, followed by a gunshot. He said the head of the mother was chopped off and taken away and he was sent back inside for Lynch's head which he threw into a gully as instructed because it was “bleeding too much”.

One of the accused, who happens to be a relative of Lynch, in his caution statement, said on the night in question he was home when he was approached by one of his cronies who told him that they were going on the road that night. He claimed that when he met with him later that night he gave him a cutlass and a file. They were joined by a few more men at which time he was told that “a Crystal (Joeith) and har madda wi a guh fah 'cause the general sey dem fi dead”.

He said after the front door to the women's dwelling was kicked off, one of his allies said, “Si di gal deh, chop her up”. He claimed he pretended to chop her three times, then chopped her the fourth time, but not with his “strength”. He said he was then asked, “A so yuh chop somebody?” before the cutlass was taken away from him by another who proceeded to further chop Lynch, who screamed his name twice before she was shot in the head by that individual.

He said he heard her mother in the other room saying “The blood of Jesus is against you” before he heard gunshots in that room. The accused claimed he then ran from the house in pursuit of another individual who had been chopped by him during the ordeal. He does not, however, know what happened afterwards.

“That's all mi do, that's all mi know what happen; mi nevah know dem a go cut off dem head. Next morning mi wake up and hear, mi feel so sad. After dat mi have sleepless nights at home, and that's all mi know, mi can't sey a dat deh man cut off di people dem head cah mi nevah deh deh when di head dem a cut off,” he said in the statement.

Yesterday, the first witness for the prosecution testified that upon being alerted about the incident while on patrol in the wee hours of the morning he proceeded to the dwelling where, upon entering, he observed the mutilated, headless bodies of the women in pools of blood in their bedrooms with “blood all over” the beds, three to four spent shell casings in one room, and one spent shell in the other.

Yesterday, DPP Lewellyn said the post-mortem results for Rattray showed that she had received eight chop wounds with the cause of death being traumatic shock caused by multiple shots and chop wounds.

Lynch's cause of death was also traumatic shock and multiple chop wounds. She was shot in the head and also chopped in the face and on her hands.

The DPP, noting the men's statements, pointed out that “duress is not a defence to murder”. She said further that the men “knew they were going on a move to cause death, even if they did not indicate that they did the chopping or the shooting”, though admitting to being armed with either a gun or a cutting implement.

“They were all there aiding and abetting… they were in common design to cause the death of these women,” Llewellyn said, referencing case law to detail why the prosecution had settled on the charge of non-capital murder.

Yesterday, three of the five, in a surprise twist, pleaded guilty to non-capital murder, while the remaining two accused pleaded not guilty to murder.

Currently non-capital murder cases, which can be tried with seven jurors, refer to those in which the particular offence is not punishable by death.

The DPP, in making the opening submission and referring to the three said, “The allegations are perhaps the facts now that the men have pleaded guilty.”

All five suspects lived on Rio Cobre Drive, a short distance away from the home of the victims. It is alleged that between 11:30 pm on July 19, 2011 and 5:45 am July 20, 2011 both deceased were shot, chopped and beheaded. Both women had been allegedly warned that they were marked for death but the elder female stubbornly refused to relocate from the area, reportedly saying “if is fi mi time is fi mi time”.

Prior to yesterday's proceedings, the DPP had indicated that she intended to ask for the death penalty for the men who have been in custody for nine years.

Social enquiry reports are to be provided for the three and Supreme Court Judge Justice Vivene Harris said the sentencing hearing for the men is set for Wednesday, December 11, at 2:00 pm.

The trial for the remaining two continues today at 10:00 am and is expected to last two weeks.

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