"Tell my mother and my little siblings mi sorry fi kill mi father, mi shoulda kill miself instead," was the message the eldest son of Westmoreland Pastor Garnett Foster Sr gave a probation after-care officer to deliver the day after his 18th birthday.
The teen, who was handed a fixed-term sentence of 15 years on Friday in the Home Circuit Court, downtown Kingston, was the one to confess to swinging the knife which landed in his father's throat, as the man who gave him life, despite having several opportunities to disclose who was responsible for the fatal stabbing, died without telling anyone.
According to a social enquiry report read into the records of the court ahead of the sentencing by Supreme Court judge, Justice Courtney Daye, the then 17-year-old youngster who had been "exhibiting anti-social behavioural patterns in the home" had also been drinking and smoking and was part of a gang known as "Bandit" at his highly respected school in the parish.
Such was his behaviour that the school had laid down strict parameters that he would have to comply with if he were to remain, among them snap searches. Ironically, his father, who had been the one to make multiple visits to the school to meet with officials because of his son who "continuously flouted the rules, gambling, fighting and defacing school property among other infractions", had been the one to sign documents withdrawing him from the institution, apparently unable to deal with the "embarrassment" any further.
The early morning Friday, July 23, 2021 stabbing, the court was told, came after his father had searched his phone and 'saw activity that was not pleasing to him and started to beat him'.
According to the attorney who represented the youngster, while the teen said he did not feel he was being abused by his father, "his unfortunate reaction to that beating was to take the knife and swing."
According to the teen, he did not know where the knife caught his father until he turned and saw it in his neck. He said his father told him to go and seek help, which he did.
According to the youngster, who said he had researched "ways to kill parents" on the Internet two months prior, he was annoyed with his parents for trying to 'control' him and 'interfere' in his life but did not truly intend to kill his 41-year-old father.
The judge, in addressing the teen who cut a forlorn figure in the docks on Friday, said the case was a "domestic violence situation" which did not fall directly into the category of crimes which would attract a sentence of life imprisonment but rather a fixed term. He said in the teen's favour was the fact that he pleaded guilty early, skipping a trial which attracted a reduced sentence. He further noted that the law gave him the leeway in the circumstances to consider a term of 10 years before parole in the event of a fixed-term sentence.
"I'm going to give you a reduction, I am not going to give you life, I am going to give you a fixed term but it is your father, it hurts everybody, you know you did wrong. Your father was not perfect but he was an outstanding husband and a good father but a man like that lost his life in that manner. Your baby sister was very traumatised, very much affected," the judge said.
"The other thing which causes me some problems is the community report, the unpredictability of your behaviour, they don't know what you are going to do, so the question is, are you a threat to your community? It's all well and good your family has all that faith in you, but there is a level of unpredictability about you and part of your trouble is the association you have [the school gang], this can get even worse than a school thing," the judge stated further.
"You will have to spend 15 years in prison and if after 10 years your behaviour is okay, you can get parole. It is your fatherâ€¦you will still have [a chance at] life again because it is 15 years, is that alright?" the senior judge asked the teen.
"Yes, Sir," he replied timidly. The judge in handing down his sentence Friday noted that the teen, who would be spending his incarceration with grown men, would "have challenges" expressing concern that those challenges would not be detrimental.
The court was told that the teen's mother, who described her husband as "almost perfect", had been so devastated by the murder that she attempted suicide. The mother, who said she was overseas working at the time due to the fact that her husband, an accountant, had lost his job during the pandemic, said she was still baffled over her son's actions.
The mother of four said she had not worked prior to her husband's redundancy, as he had been the main breadwinner. She, along with her mother-in-law, begged the court for leniency for the teen, stating that the fact that his father had not told anyone who stabbed him was a signal that he had forgiven his son as well.
A psychiatric report said the teen was a chronic abuser of marijuana.