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Christmas justice - No festivities for mother even as her son's killers are sentenced

Published:Sunday | December 27, 2015 | 12:00 AMBarbara Gayle
She would have enjoyed the cake but Christmas was not special for Elaine Edwards who continues to miss her murdered son, Clayton Byfield.

Christmas has never been the same for Elaine Edwards since her 27-year-old son, Clayton Byfield, was shot dead while being robbed of his gold chain in Rock Hall, St Andrew, on the afternoon of March 16, 2012.

"He was a very good son to me and we had a very good relationship," said Edwards late last week as she prepared to face another Christmas without her child, who would share that special day with her each year.

"We would wake up early Christmas morning, say around six, and we would cook breakfast and he would share it out. Then we would sit around the large family table with friends and relatives and we would eat, talk and laugh," said Edwards.

"Wow! Those were happy days with my son, he was a loving and kind son," she sighed.

Since the death of her son, Edwards, who is also called 'Jackie', said she had not been in the best of health.

"I went to the doctor on the eve of Christmas because my blood pressure was so high. I just don't feel good at all since they murdered my son."

 

THE ACCUSED

 

The three killers, including a woman, were found guilty of murdering Byfield and were sentenced recently, but while Edwards is happy that justice caught the murderers, the pain of her loss is not going away.

"I remember that every December my son would come home with a ham from his workplace," said Edwards, who told our news team that he worked in the accounts department at the Urban Development Corporation for 10 years.

"He gave me financial support all through the year, but when Christmas approaches, he would ask me what was the special gift I wanted for Christmas, a handbag or a church hat, and I would say a handbag.

"I grew my son without the help of a father and had to do domestic work to provide for him, but I don't regret taking care of him because he turned out to be the best son a mother could ever desire. I used to look forward to celebrating Christmas every year, but since the year 2012 my Christmas joy has been stolen."

Edwards cannot fathom that a gold chain, which she gave her son as a gift when he was 17, could end up causing his death 10 years later.

"I was so happy and proud of my son, who was my firstborn, and when I got the news that he passed seven subjects in CXC, I bought him a gold chain," said Edwards.

The mother of four recalled that her son had just cut his hair the Friday he was killed, in preparation for church the following Sunday.

She attended the trial every day in the Home Circuit Court because she said she just could not stay away, despite the sadness she was feeling.

Precious Williams, 23, of Torrington Park, and 29-year-old Troy Smith of Arnett Gardens pleaded guilty to murder. The third accused, 27-year-old Andino Buchanan, businessman, of Regent Street, Kingston, pleaded not guilty but was convicted by the jury.

 

PROSECUTION'S CASE

 

The prosecution's case led by Paula Llewellyn, director of public prosecutions, and Michele Salmon, crown counsel, was that while Byfield was in the shop, a minibus drove up with the three accused inside.

Smith and Williams entered the shop and Williams grabbed the chain which was around Byfield's neck but had difficulty removing it. Smith then pulled an assault rifle out of a bag, shot Byfield and removed the chain.

The three then left the robbery scene in the minibus driven by Buchanan. An alarm was raised and the police, with the assistance of citizens, gave chase and the three abandoned the minibus and fled into bushes.

A search was launched and Williams and Smith were held that same day. Smith was found in possession of the gold chain. Buchanan was held some months later.

The police found an assault rifle with 29 rounds of ammunition inside the minibus as well as a bag with 13 rounds of ammunition and identification cards belonging to Buchanan, who was the owner of the minibus.

The Crown led evidence that the firearm belonged to Buchanan. Buchanan said in his defence that he was not in Rock Hall at the time of the killing and someone else was driving the minibus.

Senior Puisne Judge Gloria Smith, in handing down sentence, said she had to take into account the mitigating factors as well as the aggravating circumstances.

She said that in the case of Smith and Williams, they took responsibility by pleading guilty and seemed remorseful about the incident. The judge took into account the fact that they had spent three years in custody before pleading guilty in October.

The three were each sentenced to life imprisonment. Williams was ordered to serve 20 years before she can be eligible for parole. Smith and Buchanan will have to serve 25 years before they can be eligible for parole.