Elderly man and 24-year-old sentenced to life
"Justice was served."
That declaration by Pauline Edwards came in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston yesterday, minutes after 65-year-old Bertram Clarke and 24-year-old Arthur Robinson were sentenced to life imprisonment for the brutal slaying of her mother nine years ago.
"Justice was meted out by the jury, which found him guilty, and the judge, who gave them the sentence we were looking for, and we are very satisfied with the lawyers, who did a fabulous job," said Edwards as her sister, Hazel Scarlett, nodded in approval.
Justice Gloria Smith, who presided over the 15-month trial - the longest in the country's history - directed that Clarke must serve 25 years before he is eligible for parole. Robinson, who was a 15-year-old student at the time of the killing, will have to serve 21 years before he becomes eligible for parole.
Prosecutors Lisa Palmer-Hamilton and Natallie Malcolm led evidence that Floris Clarke was found dead inside her home in Watt Town, St Ann, on October 26, 2007. According to evidence presented during the trial, she was bludgeoned with a wooden bat, stabbed several times, and had her throat slashed.
Prosecutors charged that Clarke, who has since remarried and fathered two children, contracted Robinson and another student, Emmanuel Newland, for between $60,000 and $100,000 to kill his wife.
Newland pleaded guilty to murder in July 2011 and is serving a 15-year prison sentence.
"Sentencing should be fair to the community, the family, and the accused persons ... and for the protection of the public. I will have to look at the positives [said about Clarke and Robinson during a sentencing hearing yesterday], but I also have to look at the evidence in the case," Smith said before announcing the sentence.
Attorney-at-law Oswest Senior Smith signalled immediately that Clarke plans to appeal his conviction on several grounds.
"Misconduct, misbehaviour, apparent collusion and non-direction," Smith said outside the court as he listed some of the grounds on which the appeal would be filed.
"And this is even before I've had a chance to look at the complete transcript and summation to be provided by the court reporter. I can only hope that the compiling of the work of the court reporting department is done within a reasonable time so that Mr Clarke can pursue justice at the appellate level," he continued.
Before the sentences were announced, Robinson's mother, Andrea James, pleaded with Smith to be lenient on her son, declaring that "to my heart, I don't believe he killed that lady".
"Can you please have leniency on him. Give him a road sentence because he is someone who like to move up and down. Him don't like to stay one place," she pleaded.
James told the court that she raised her son to be "'mannersable', kind, loving and caring", and was shocked when she heard that he was arrested and charged with murder. "That's not my child because my child don't show any action like he would hurt anybody," she said.