"FOR months and years" after Arthwell Alphonso Joseph was murdered in his Manchester home the face of his killer, Shevano Richards, haunted his widow.
That became even harder to handle when she remembered how Richards swaggered through the house as if "he owned it", after he shot Joseph to death and spat on him.
Ten years later, following his conviction and sentence of life behind bars with eligibility for parole after 34 years and seven months, the still-grieving British national said her memories are stained with the horror of that September 19, 2013 night and its prime actor.
"The night when he came in, he had this swagger. I just couldn't get my head around it — how somebody could brutally murder someone and it was nothing…I couldn't understand how this gentleman had just murdered my husband and he walked around my house like he owned it…I could never forget that feature, his mannerism, everything about him," the wife, a British national of Jamaican descent, told the Jamaica Observer brokenly.
She said her husband, who set foot in Jamaica for the first time in 1997, had stubbornly fallen in love with the tropical island and could not be convinced to leave, resulting in their decision to make their retirement home in Manchester. She said it wasn't long before they got a taste of the other side of life on the island.
"They robbed us in 2012, but my husband fought off the robbers. A year to the day they came back and murdered him," she said.
According to the wife, a feeling of unease that she could not shake dogged her shortly before the events of that night unfolded.
"I told my husband: 'Phonso, something bad is going to happen to us' but I could never imagine it was going to be that. The night of the incident the driver dropped home Alphonso. He came into the room to me and we discussed what had happened throughout the workday, and then he went to the living room to listen some music and wind down.
"While I was in the room I heard, 'Weh di money deh' so I called out, 'Who is that?' I hear fighting, I hear cups breaking, things turning over. He says: 'Call the police…' then I heard bow, bow — two explosions," she told the Sunday Observer, her face crumpling, her voice heavy with tears.
That's when she said Richards charged towards her bedroom door demanding of her, "Lady, weh di money deh?"
"I said, 'You can go anywhere in this house and anywhere you see money, you can take it but I am going to see what happened to my husband….' Throughout the whole process I was calm and collected until I kneeled beside my husband, and that's when I screamed," she told the Sunday Observer.
"I knew he was gone because his eyes were open but they were just glazed over, no movement, no nothing. I knew he wasn't alive," she said almost on a whimper. Still determined to get help for her husband she said she headed for an outside door, only to be stopped by Richards who had by then completely discarded his mask.
"He stood up in front of me. He said, 'Lady, weh yuh a go?' I said, 'I am going to get help for my husband, and you can kill me.' And I turned my back and walked," she related.
Her screams of alarm brought the community running and then the police some time later, she recalled.
She said in 2015 the call she had prayed for came: Richards had been collared.
According to the police, during the investigations into the shooting deaths of two brothers — Oshane Levy, 21, and 27-year-old Anthony Bailey — off Highway Drive, Greenvale, in May 2015, an acquaintance, upon learning that Richards had been taken into custody for those murders, told the police about his boast that he had been the one who had killed Joseph. Richards reportedly bragged that he got money "to kill a man in Manchester", and even took the individual to the house where Joseph and his wife had lived.
"He described me [to his acquaintance] to a detail; he described my husband. They knew inside our house, exactly what the house looked like. I'd never seen him in my life [until that night]," the widow told the Sunday Observer.
An identification parade brought her face to face again with the man who had killed her husband, whom his wife described as "an exceptional man, very exceptional who was dearly loved".
"When they let the prisoners in, I walked along…when I saw him my heart dropped. My heart dropped. I could not forget that face because he walked through my house and presented himself in front of me without his mask, like he was showing off, like 'Look at me' and that's what troubled me for years — the cold, callousness of his behaviour," she stated.
"I asked the accused to step forward. I remembered his face, I remembered his profile, and I identified him because for months and years his face haunted me," she said softly. Such was his disposition that the widow said he totally eclipsed his accomplice.
"I did a second ID parade but I could not remember the second one's face; but the one who pulled the trigger, he came up in my face," she told the Sunday Observer.
When the trial began in May this year Joseph returned to the island, anxious to see the justice she had fought tooth and nail for dispensed.
"I would not let it go; my family feared for me. When I was leaving [for Jamaica] there was just a peace over me; I didn't fear. The British Home Office said: 'Mrs Joseph, you are not going to get security.' Nobody came with me, nobody wanted to come. They said I should not come. I had my mom in tears for weeks, thinking that they were going to murder me over here, and I said to them, 'Jamaica is my home, and I know I am covered and I will come for the duration of the case,' " she shared.
Facing Richards in court she said flooded her heart with "pity".
"I ventured into the courtroom and looked him in his face and the only thing I could feel was pity; I looked at him and I just pitied him. I thought: 'You sad human being…' that he could be so cold and callous to a fellow human being, and over money?" she said.
"On the last day, when the unanimous verdict came, I said: 'Thank you Jesus, you delivered me after 10 years.' I knew I was going to get justice because Phonso wouldn't harm a soul. I knew I was going to get victory. I have faith in the Jamaican justice system. There's more to Jamaica than sea and sand; there is justice in Jamaica. I am a prime witness," she said.
Asked why anyone would want her husband dead, she said, "It was a robbery; they came for money. When they robbed us before, they got money so they came back for more."
Despite the loss of her partner in a place he loved, without reservation she said she harboured no bitterness towards the island.
"Venturing into Jamaica, this is going to sound strange, but it hugged me up. Jamaica has been put on media platforms to say there are only murderers, thieves, and very unsavoury people who you will encounter when you come here. I have lived here, on and off, for 35 years and Jamaica is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever experienced in my life. The people are exceptionally nice, helpful, and accommodating. They've stereotyped Jamaica, making people believe that everybody is unapproachable, that the justice system doesn't exist, but I am an example. I fought for justice for my husband for 10 years — and I had no intention of giving up because I believe in the justice system in Jamaica and I believe in my representative. And I want to take this opportunity to thank the head of prosecution for strategically governing a team to get me victory after 10 years," she stated.
Joseph's widow, who has been receiving therapy to help her cope with the loss of her husband, shared after the sentence was handed down to Richards last Friday, a word of advice in her parting shot, "From here I ask God to guide me and lead me to where he wants me to be but the one thing I would like to tell the world: 'Have faith in Jamaica's justice system, you will get it.' "
Supreme Court Judge Grace Henry McKenzie, on Friday, in sentencing Richards to life behind bars with eligibility for parole after 34 years and seven months, said the murder had all the hallmarks of a contract killing and was "akin", in her view, to capital murder.
Justice Henry McKenzie, in assessing the case, said she had identified as aggravating factors the nature and seriousness of the offence, the devastating impact on the family, the fact that the murder was committed during a home invasion, and was carried out with a firearm and an accomplice. Further aggravating factors, she said, were the forced entry, the fact that the deceased did not know Richards, the evidence pointing to it being a contract killing, premeditation, and the fact that Richards spat on Joseph after he shot and killed him.
"Murder by any stretch of the imagination is a very serious offence… a life has been lost, a life has been cut short. The impact has been devastating. The family of Mr Joseph will never be able to enjoy his company ever again," she said, noting that murders have escalated in Mandeville in recent times and permeate the island.