'He refused to die in prison', says lawyer for Linton Berry

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Former district constable and murder convict 71-year-old Linton Berry, who was released on June 16 after serving 31 years in prison, has died.

He had been diagnosed with throat cancer.

Attorney-at-law Zara Lewis, who was representing Berry in various civil suits against the government, said the former district constable had been diagnosed with throat cancer not long after being released from prison.

"He was sick but he had refused to die in prison, he promised me that he would come out," Lewis told OBSERVER ONLINE.

"It wasn't diagnosed until he came out of prison. He realised coming out of prison that he had throat cancer and he was trying to get treatment both here and overseas," Lewis added.

Berry came to national attention in 1987 when he was arrested and charged with the murder of his former lover, 36-year-old Paulette Ziadie.

Berry had been looking forward to spending quality time with close family members and friends. Lewis hailed Berry for the sterling role he played in helping to make life easier for other inmates.

"He was one of the prisoners working to create records of people who were incarcerated with mental health issues; he was also one of the orderlies who took care of people with mental illnesses. Because of his experience as a police officer, he was a good record keeper and he was utilised by prison officers for that purpose," he said.

Upon his release, Berry had apologised to the relatives of the deceased but he said then that he maintained his innocence. To the end, Berry claimed that the deceased, Paulette Ziadie, grabbed his firearm and it went off, accidentally hitting her.

READ: Deadly love triangle — conclusion

Berry had been involved in ongoing legal battles in the Supreme Court with the prison authority over poor treatment.

"What was outstanding about his life was that, notwithstanding the tragic circumstances that brought him to prison, he fought for the accused man's right to disclosure. As a result of the work that Berry did, the defence has a right to full and complete disclosure from the prosecution. He was a man who fought, he not only fought for himself, but the wider Jamaica, and they have much to be grateful for, for him," Lewis said.

Berry is survived by his son Jason and other relatives.

Claude Mills

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