'Kinda cruel' - Court orders Patrick Powell to pay family of Khajeel Mais $2m
Two million dollars. That's the amount a High Court judge has ordered businessman Patrick Powell to pay the family of slain Kingston College student Khajeel Mais arising from a wrongful-death lawsuit.
The award by Justice Stephanie Jackson Haisley was made in the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston yesterday, nearly two years after the lawsuit, which was filed by the teen's parents, ended with a default judgment.
Powell, who is currently serving a nine-month sentence for a conviction related to Mais' death, did not contest the suit. In July this year, Powell was found guilty of failing to turn over his licensed Glock pistol and ammunition to police investigators probing Mais' death.
Yesterday, Jackson Haisley ordered him to pay the family $1.7 million in special damages at three per cent interest from July 1, 2011 - the same day Mais was killed - and $206,788 in general damages at three per cent interest from February last year for loss of expectation of life, among other things.
Stacy Knight, an attorney with the law firm of Knight, Junor & Samuels, which represented the Mais family, described $206,788 awarded for loss of expectation of life as generous, noting that the conventional figure in Jamaica is $180,000.
Knight acknowledged that Khajeel was a minor with no dependents and that the court was tasked with setting a figure for something that cannot be quantified, but contended that the award for loss of expectation of life was "kinda cruel".
"What the court is actually saying [in making the award of $206,788] is that he was a liability and that having lost him, the family has not lost anything," she explained.
The award of $1.7 million is reimbursement for money Allana Mais testified that her family forked out to cover her son's funeral expenses.
Khajeel made headlines in 2011 after he was fatally shot inside a taxi in Havendale, St Andrew, as he was on his way to a school party.
Powell was arrested and charged with murder after police investigators claimed he fired into the taxi because it collided with his BMW X6 luxury vehicle.
However, the businessman's murder trial collapsed after Wayne Wright, the driver of the taxi and the main prosecution witness, testified that he did not see who fired the fatal shots.
In their lawsuit, Allana and Noel Mais claimed that their 17-year-old son was lawfully travelling in a taxi when Powell "stopped alongside the taxicab ... and negligently and without lawful cause discharged his firearm and shot the deceased [Khajeel], who later succumbed to his injuries."
They also claimed that the businessman failed to carry out any or sufficient enquiries "before resorting to the use of lethal force in firing on the deceased, who was, at the relevant time, unarmed and posed no threat."