'Mi feel dead inside'
Father recalls how he used to carry his son's killers on his shoulders when they were kidsSunday, March 21, 2021
BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS
THE same shoulders on which 55-year-old Lancelot Thomas used to carry his only son Lorenzo “Israel” Thomas as a tot were ironically the same shoulders on which he carried Dantay Brooks and Andre Hinds, the two who would ultimately be convicted for vicious murder of his son.
Brooks, the son of dancehall artiste Mavado, and Hinds were on Friday sentenced to life behind bars for that brutal murder.
“On the night Chullups [alias for Lorenzo] was murdered I felt I wanted to die, even telling his murderers to kill mi too. Mi wish mi coulda erase that scene. Dem shoot him, try chop off him neck, and den pour gas on his body and light him and the house. Mi have life, but mi feel dead inside. Mi cry from that day to now; mi nuh know how mi nuh go crazy,” the elder Thomas, who was the star witness for the prosecution, said in a victim impact statement read into the records of the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston last Friday evening.
Lorenzo Thomas, who was born on February 14 — a day celebrated worldwide as a day of love — died in circumstances that were anything but loving as his father watched helplessly in horror.
The father — who had countless conversations with his son starting when he was in utero, and cut his umbilical cord when he was born — detailed how what he witnessed on the morning of June 5, 2018 left him on the brink, forcing him to flee his house, leaving all he had lived and worked for, clad only in a pair of underpants, the acrid smell of his son's burning flesh and his torched house in his nostrils.
“My son...was the oldest child and my only son. Chullups was a joy to me from the moment he was born 'til he dead. From the moment Jackie [mother] was pregnant with him I talk to him, putting my mouth on her belly. I would speak to my son from he was in his mother's womb. I would tell him jokes in the belly and I would tell him, him muss come play football like mi,” Thomas said in the statement.
“He was born at the University Hospital [of the West Indies, UHWI] and I was allowed by the doctor to cut his navel string. Me and Chullups had a great father and son relationship — from the day he was born 'til his death. We cook together, we go market together, go beach. Me and Chullups never have an argument yet,” Thomas said.
His dreams and ambitions for his one son — who, ironically, was killed while his own girlfriend was pregnant with his child — were many.
“Mi buy him a bicycle before him start creep. Mi buy him football from him a baby; mi teach him how to ride bicycle and how to play football. Mi teach him nuff other things to...I was teaching him masonry but he preferred carpentry, so mi teach him that,” the father said further.
His pain, he said, was made greater by the knowledge that his son died at the hands of people he knew.
“What make it worse is that Dante and Andre who murdered mi son a two youth weh grow up inna mi hand; mi carry dem pon mi shoulder jus' like how mi carry my son, and buy snacks fi dem. Wah dem did to mi son was pure cruelty,” Thomas said in his statement.
Now, he said, all he has left of his son are memories and photographs salvaged from the boy's mother.
The elder Thomas, who said he had been happy in his community, explained that he still has unfinished jobs for people there, but cannot return to complete them out of fear for his life.
“Mi lose not only mi son but mi life,” he said, sharing how his son's mother fainted at the news of his death and had to be hospitalised. He also said he thinks her personality has changed since the murder.
His despair, he said, was deepened by the fact that his grandchild will never know his own father.
“Chullups son will now have to grow up without a father...mi don't know at this point how mi a go recover mentally, financially, and professionally,” he told the court, adding that he had lost $160,000 in the fire.
The elder Thomas said when he was told the two were found guilty he wept and had diarrhoea, but “felt some relief”.
“I want to see that Dantay and Andre get the maximum penalty. Mi neva know dem young youth deh so wicked,” he stated.
During the 12-day trial, which began on January 11 this year, the prosecution presented evidence from 14 witnesses based on the direct eyewitness testimony of Lorenzo Thomas's father. The court heard that on the day before the murder the elder Thomas received word that his son was going to be killed and made arrangements for his son to stay elsewhere. He later had a brief altercation with the Brooks.
Later that same day the elder Thomas said he visited his son to give him some money for food and on returning home passed the convicted men before entering his yard. According to his testimony, he went into his yard and later saw his son arrive at the home.
According to the bereaved father, he, for a couple hours, observed both Brooks and Hinds and other people standing near his fence, which he pointed out to his son.
He said after retiring to bed, tragedy struck in the wee hours of the morning.
Shortly after 3:30 am, the elder Thomas said, he heard when the door to his son's front bedroom was “kicked off”, heard gunshots, and saw his son falling to the ground while clutching his chest.
The eyewitness later saw Brooks, Hinds and two other people in his son's room.
He heard Hinds ask if he, the eyewitness, was to be killed and heard another person, whom he identified as Brooks, say, “No, [him] nuh fi dead.”
He also said he saw Brooks pass a cutlass to one of the persons in the room [this individual was not before the court], who tried to sever Lorenzo's head from his body.
Declaring that the machete was too dull, that other person emptied a gun in Lorenzo's head. This same person then requested gas, poured some on the Lorenzo, then throughout the house, and then lit a fire. Brooks and Hinds, along with the two other persons, ran from the house.
On Friday Brooks and Hinds were sentenced to life behind bars for that murder by Supreme Court Judge Justice Leighton Pusey. Brooks, who was 16 at the time of the murder, will serve 22 years before being eligible for parole for murder. He was also sentenced to 20 years for illegal possession of firearm and sentenced to 15 years for arson.
Hinds, who was 23 at the time of the murder, was sentenced to life in prison for murder. He will not be eligible for parole before 17 years. He was also sentenced to 15 years at hard labour for illegal possession of firearm and 15 years at hard labour for arson. Both received discounts for time already spent in custody.
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