Fri | Feb 15, 2019

Mom on verge of ‘madness’ - Still heartbroken after cops convicted of manslaughter

Published:Saturday | February 9, 2019 | 1:06 AM

Although the manslaughter conviction of the three cops charged with the 2012 killing of Vanessa Kirkland will not bring her daughter back, Veronica Nelson said that she is satisfied that they have been held to account – even if not for murder.

“They say manslaughter, but me feel like them fi [convict] fi murder ... but at least me feel better now. At least them get manslaughter. Mi feel better in a miself,” a devastated Nelson said in an interview after the verdict was handed down by a seven-member jury.

“God know why them get manslaughter. ... Me say them lucky a that them get ‘cause my daughter dead and can’t come back,” the devastated mom added.

Police constables Andrewain Smith, Durvin Hayles, and Anna-Kay Bailey were yesterday acquitted of Kirkland’s murder. However, they were found guilty of manslaughter in relation to the teenager’s death at the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston.

Nelson told The Gleaner that the last seven years of her life have been hell.

“Mad, mi tell you, mad. A mad woman. Only true me nah eat out a rubbish pan,” a devastated Nelson said. “Ignorant (angry) within everything, because fi know you raise your daughter, she reach 16 year old without father, and she reach Immaculate High School, and you know haffi a spend pon har and when you look, a waste, it just gone in vain,” she added.

Defence attorneys told The Gleaner that they were disappointed with the verdict but respected the judicial process. The attorneys also said that they have been instructed by their clients to launch an appeal after the sentence is handed down. Already, they say they have identified strong grounds to do so.

The Crown alleged that on March 20, 2012, about 9:30 p.m., the three police constables drove on to Norman Lane in St Andrew when they proceeded to open fire on a blue Suzuki Swift motor car parked on the left side of the road.

Kirkland, who was in the vehicle, was shot and killed.

The men fired upon the motor vehicle without just cause, the Crown argued. However, the accused had maintained that they acted in self-defence, having first been fired upon by men who eventually emerged from the vehicle.

During the trial, which started on January 7, 2019, thirteen witnesses were called and a total of 14 documents, including post-mortem and ballistic reports, were admitted into evidence.

The police constables are expected to return to court next Thursday when a date will be set for their sentencing.

They have been remanded.

nickoy.wilson@gleanerjm.com