Mon | Aug 20, 2018

Numb from tragedies, injustice

Published:Saturday | October 29, 2016 | 12:00 AM


In less than a week, two incidents involving our children have rocked Jamaica. First, there was the acquittal and shabby trial of Patrick Powell, accused of shooting and killing 17-year-old Kingston College student Khajeel Mais in the back of a taxi in Havendale. Then there was the stabbing death of Nicholas Francis, a 14-year-old Jamaica College student.

Both incidents have left most of us numb, angry, and at a loss for words. First, Powell's acquittal in what became known as the X6 murder trial highlighted what we all know: Our justice system is in poor shape, which must be part of the reason crime is out of control.

Criminals are aware they can beat the system, especially if they have the resources. No country can adequately develop without a decent system of justice. We can forget any hopes of economic development if these issues aren't addressed and fixed urgently.

Everyone deserves a fair trial, but the X6 case was high-profile, and the circumstances, and one statement given to police by the key witness, the driver of the taxi in which Mais was murdered, all slanted one side: guilt. But the case fell apart, and guilt was not proven without a shadow of doubt. These cases take too long to be tried, to begin with. The more years that pass, the bigger the holes get in the case, and often, people lose passion and interest.

It is unbelievable in this day and age that witness statements, especially in a crucial case, aren't recorded. There is one plausible reason the accused did not hand over his licensed firearm, which could have been a crucial piece of evidence.


We hope the justice minister, as well as the police and prosecution, is busy reviewing all the issues in this case that went wrong to ensure that this never happens again. It will be interesting to watch the second part of the case, regarding the alleged refusal to turn over the firearm, which starts on November 18.

The tragic death of Nicholas Francis, killed in a cell phone robbery attempt on a bus, was also shocking. With all that happened on the bus, surprisingly, we haven't heard of anyone producing a photo of the criminal even as he fled. If pictures exist, it is time to start publishing these.

We understand the police now has a name, and we hope they move swiftly with the investigation.