Sat | Dec 14, 2019

Double murder rocks Negril - Businessman and Italian wife shot dead in West End

Published:Saturday | November 30, 2019 | 12:28 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor

WESTERN BUREAU:

Negril is reeling from yesterday’s double murder of a businessman and his Italian wife in the popular tourist resort town, which is covered under a tri-parish state of emergency in Hanover, Westmoreland, and St James.

The deceased couple have been identified as Osbourne Richards, 49, and his 45-year-old wife, Patrizia Richards. They were found with their hands bound with electrical cord and items of clothing in their West End home.

“Based on what the investigators have seen at the location, we believe it was a robbery,” said Superintendent Robert Gordon, the commanding officer for Westmoreland. “The place was ransacked, and we know that a television set and a large refrigerator were taken from the house.

“We are following strong leads and we are hoping to make an arrest shortly,” added Gordon, who recently replaced the newly promoted Senior Superintendent Gary McKenzie as head of the Westmoreland Police Division.

According to reports, approximately 12:35 a.m., unknown assailants broke into the house and attacked the couple. It is unclear what transpired on the inside, but residents reportedly heard shots being fired.

When the police visited the location, the couple’s blood-soaked bodies were found inside the house with their hands tied and their bodies punctured with multiple bullet wounds.

The brutal killing, which ended a short but welcome period of peace under the ongoing SOE, has left residents and business interest in the popular seaside town in shock, as many had felt that increased police and military presence would have provided enhanced security.

“Things were really bad at the start of this year with a number of murders, but things got quiet after the state of emergency was imposed,” a West End businessman told The Gleaner yesterday. “I believe we are steadily killing the golden goose, so we might soon find ourselves without any eggs (tourism dollar) in Negril.”

Yesterday’s double murder is the second major shooting incident in Westmoreland in just under 48 hours.

On Wednesday, 60-year-old Roy Perry of Belvedere district was shot dead shortly after 1 a.m. when gunmen barged into his home and opened fire. Perry’s 50-year-old wife was shot and seriously injured in the incident.

Westmoreland, which was the most violent of the western parishes in 2018 with 141 murders, recorded 79 homicides between January 1 and November 23 this year, 39 per cent fewer than for the corresponding period last year.

adrian.frater@gleanerjm.com