People who defend criminals should read victim impact statements

Each time we publish a victim impact statement from a murder trial it takes us back to that heart-rending experiences shared by a relative of 40-year-old Ms Charmaine Rattray and her 18-year-old daughter Ms Joeith Lynch who were both brutally chopped, shot and beheaded in their house in Lauriston, St Catherine, in July 2011.

The relative gave the statement to the court in December 2019, moments before Justice Vivene Harris sentenced the four men convicted of the gruesome crime to life in prison.

"I was one of the persons who had to go to the post-mortem to identify the bodies — the headless bodies. When I saw the chops on them you can see that they were fighting for their lives. But the worst thing for me was the heads — one was just skull and hair, and the other was stink, because it was in the river water and had started decaying," said the relative, whom we did not identify by name or gender by order of the judge.

"What kind of people have the heart to do this to someone? Chop them, shoot them, and then cut their head off. Then you throw their heads away like their life is worth nothing," added the relative.

"I don't go to St Catherine at all, I'm paranoid. I don't sleep well. I have lost weight, I am unable to eat meat with chopped bone because the images are still fresh in my mind," said the relative who also shared that Ms Lynch, who was a student at The Queen's School, "was destined for greatness" and the killers "robbed her of a life, of a future, of a chance to take her mother out of poverty. That was always her dream — to move her mother from Lauriston to give her a good life".

Justice Harris, in sentencing the four subhumans — Adrian Campbell, Roshane Goldson, Fabian Smith, and Kemar Riley — said she was going beyond the prescribed limits of the sentencing guidelines because of the aggravating circumstances of the case.

Last Friday, we heard similarly moving victim impact statements from the widows of two missionaries — men who left their country to help poor people here — who were brutally killed in St Mary in April 2016.

Mrs Sarah Hentzel said she and Mr Randy Hentzel got married as teenagers and had spent more than 29 years together. To say that his murder hit her hard would be an understatement.

"He was the love of my life and my companion, his death affected all future plans. It's like half of my life was amputated," she said.

"Not one day goes by that I don't remember my husband...for the kind of person he was. Taking him away from us has derailed a lot of our family's future plans and we will never be the same," she added.

Equally painful was the experience shared by Mrs Teri Nichols, who said the killing of her husband of 25 years ripped her life apart.

"I lost the love of my life and the only family I had. I lost my home. I lost my dogs. I had to move back to the United States because I lost everything. I had to get a job and start all over because I had no money," she said, adding that she had to receive therapy and has had sleepless nights.

The people who rush to the defence of the savages who commit these murders; people who make puny excuses for scum who don't think twice about taking lives and, in most instances, show no remorse, should avail themselves of these victim impact statements; and hopefully, after reading them, they will divest themselves of their bleeding hearts.

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