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JDF soldier loses appeal in Diamond Lounge murders

Published:Friday | July 31, 2015 | 7:03 PMBarbara Gayle

JAMAICA DEFENCE Force soldier Leslie Moodie who shot and killed four men in the Diamond Lounge Gaming Club on Washington Boulevard, St Andrew in October 28, 2008, while a birthday party was in session has lost his appeal against his murder convictions.

However, the Court of Appeal has set aside the sentence of death passed on him and ordered that he be re-sentenced following a sentencing hearing in the Home Circuit Court later this year. The court said yesterday that as regards sentence, the prosecution did not seek to uphold the sentence of death imposed on Moodie by the presiding judge.

Moodie could now be sentenced to life imprisonment with an order as to how many years he must serve before parole.

Justice Horace Marsh (now retired) in passing sentence in August 2014 had said that the murders were exceptional and extreme and there was nothing to show that Moodie was remorseful or there was any possibility of reform. Marsh said then that even after Moodie was convicted by the jury, he was still maintaining he was innocent as outlined in the social enquiry and psychiatric reports.

Defence lawyers Pierre Rogers and Michael Deans had made impassioned pleas for the judge to impose a sentence of life imprisonment. They argued that on the night of the incident, Moodie was provoked and was not in charge of his faculties because he was drinking heavily.

unsworn statement

In response, the judge said when Moodie gave his unsworn statement from the dock, the soldier said in his defence that he had only one bottle of Guinness on the night of the incident, and was not drunk. The judge commented that when one of the men was shot and fell on the floor, Moodie used his foot to turn him over and said, "You going to die tonight."

Moodie, 34, who was a corporal attached to the Coast Guard of the JDF, had said in his defence that men with guns and knives attacked him and he defended himself.

The prosecution led evidence at the trial in the Home Circuit Court that it was Moodie who fired shots in the club, killing the four and injuring several

others. The witnesses said that about 4 a.m. on October 20, 2008, Moodie was having drinks in the club and was harassing a female patron. Persons in the club cautioned him about his behaviour and he began firing shots.

Moodie was convicted of the murders of Ejon Peart, 20, a sound-system operator of Greendale Drive, Kingston 19; Davian Kerr, 19, and Lynchmore Forbes, 24, both of Pembroke Hall; and William Wilberforce, 28, of Duhaney Drive, Kingston 20.

Jacqueline Samuels-Brown, QC, who represented Moodie on appeal filed several grounds of appeal seeking to have the convictions overturned.

Prosecutors Lisa Palmer-Hamilton and Paula Archer-Hall argued that the judge's review of the evidence and his directions to the jury could not be faulted.