Killer gets two life sentencesFriday, October 22, 2021
BY ALICIA DUNKLEY WILLIS
Supreme Court judge Justice Lorna Shelly Williams yesterday slapped Fabian Skervin with two life sentences for the 2018 murder of a Jamaican-Canadian couple in Retreat, St Thomas, saying that the evidence in what was clearly a “premeditated” homicide “was overwhelming”.
“He admitted that he entered the house of the victims and had hidden in a closet with a piece of board… his actions… showed premeditation. Mr Skervin will be sentenced to two life imprisonments for the murder of Mr and Mrs Flake,” the judge said at the outset of the sentencing exercise, pointing out that, what the court needed to decide was the number of years to be imposed on the defendant before he is eligible for parole.
Under the Offences Against the Person Act, murder attracts life in prison.
Melbourne Flake, 81, and his 70 year-old wife Etta, were found dead at their vacation home on January 9, 2018. Mr Flake, whose hands and feet were bound, was observed to have sustained head wounds, while his wife, who was also bound, was said to have been suffocated.
Following investigations, Skervin — a farmer of Tulip Road and Soho district, both in Seaforth — and his female companion were picked up at a house in the Seaforth Housing Scheme in St Thomas on Wednesday, February 7. They were subsequently charged with two counts of murder and robbery with aggravation each.
Yesterday, Justice Shelly Williams — after applying the relevant discounts to Skervin who, in addition to pleading guilty early has already spent three years and eight months behind bars — sentenced him to life imprisonment for both counts of murder. Both sentences are to run concurrently, making it so that he will serve 32 years and four months before being eligible for parole.
In outlining the aggravating factors in the case against Skervin, the judge said, “I take into consideration that more than one person was killed, the murder was committed during the course of a robbery, the defendant used the debit card of the deceased to purchase numerous items, to include appliances and jewellery, and I also take into account that the victims were senior citizens.”
She said mitigating factors such as Skervin deciding to plead guilty early in the matter, as well as the fact that he had no previous convictions, did not take away from the fact that “the evidence against the defendant was overwhelming”.
“I say this because there was video footage of the defendant using the debit card of Mr Flake, and he made a number of statements confessing to the killing,” she said.
Skervin, in July this year, pleaded guilty to two counts of murder following a psychiatric evaluation which established that he was fit to plead. The expert said that four years before the murders Skervin had experienced one incident of auditory hallucinations. However, based on his report and history he was not influenced by an abnormality of the mind at the time of the offence.
According to the expert, Skervin understood the nature of the offence but described the incident as a robbery where he ended up killing the victims due to an evil attack described as a fire and electric shock in his head and body. Skervin was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2020 while in custody.
The Flakes, who were visiting Jamaica at the time of their murders, had been carrying out extensive work on their vacation home and had hired Skervin, among others, to work on the property.
Skervin, upon his arrest, made several statements admitting that he had murdered them, while claiming that he had been battling spiritual forces which influenced his actions as he did not intend to kill the couple. He confessed to entering the couple's home while they were outside and hiding in a closet with a piece of board until nightfall when he then launched his attack. He further admitted to beating Mr Flake until he gave him the personal identification number for his debit card.
That debit card, investigators said, was used to make several purchases, including appliances and jewellery, which included a wedding ring. Video evidence and recordings implicated Skervin.
Yesterday, Skervin's lawyer, Anthony Williams, in prevailing on the court to show mercy, said his client, who had accepted responsibility for his actions, was capable of being rehabilitated. He further noted that Skervin had played a fatherly role in his family and was described by residents of his community as a hard-working and quiet individual who did not take part in deviant behaviour with others.
His partner, the mother of his four-year-old child, remains before the court.