Tue | Dec 12, 2017

Former helper, boyfriend get 25 years for Vogel killing

Published:Saturday | September 30, 2017 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett
Dr Peter Vogel

A High Court judge yesterday suggested that Yanika Scott, the former household helper to university lecturer Dr Peter Vogel, was the "brains" behind his murder.

It came as Justice Evon Brown dressed down Scott, 32, and her boyfriend, Kelvin Downer, 31, before sending them to prison for 25 years. They will be eligible for parole after serving 15 years.

"This was a senseless crime, one that gives flesh to the saying, 'dog bite the hands that feed him,'" Brown said.

Before the sentence was imposed, Scott's attorney, Jacqueline Asher, revealed that her client has earned seven subjects from the Caribbean Examination Council since she was taken into custody by the police in 2012.

"She works in the institution [prison where she is being housed] to support her [10-year-old] child. That gives the court an indication of the mind of the person, despite the predicament in which she has found herself," Asher said in her plea mitigation on Scott's behalf.

However, while acknowledging her educational achievements, Brown cited the contents of a social enquiry report and a forensic psychiatric report prepared for Scott to bolster his assertion that she was the brains behind the attack on Dr Vogel.

According to Brown, the former live-in helper admitted to the doctor who examined her that she saw a man walk into the house behind her boyfriend on the night the lecturer was killed.

"I'm not surprised you would say that because, and I mean no disrespect to Mr Downer, you was the one with the brains in the unit," he said.

During her three-week trial, she gave an unsworn statement, saying she and Downer were at the Vogels' College Commons home, in St Andrew on the night of July 18, 2007, when some men entered the room and ordered her not to move.

 

'MISS GOODY TWO SHOES'

 

"In one breath, you look like 'Miss Goody Two Shoes', but from the social enquiry report and the people in the community from which you came, you are the person that led Mr Downer down the road to destruction," Justice Brown blasted.

Downer's attorney, Diane Jobson, in her mitigation plea, told the court that her client was "sorry for the victim", but maintains his innocence.

"All the reports show that he was a person of good character and could not be considered a threat to society," Jobson argued.

But Brown appeared unmoved.

"I see Mr Downer is still running with this same cock and bull story about three men entering the house," he said, pointing to the contents of the psychiatric report prepared for Downer.

Prosecutors Maxine Jackson and Kelly-Ann Francis led evidence during the trial that Vogel's body was found inside the study room at his home by his then six-year-old son, Daniel.

Vogel, a Swiss national, was found with his hands tied behind his back, his feet bound at the ankles, and a piece of cloth tied around his mouth. Forensic pathologist Dr S.N. Prasad Kadiyala testified that he was strangled.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com