Fri | Aug 18, 2017

'Phantom Burglar' sentenced to 15 years on manslaughter conviction

Published:Friday | June 17, 2016 | 6:25 PM

Livern Barrett, Senior Gleaner Writer

Garfield Roper, the man described by police investigators as the 'Phantom Burglar' who preyed on residents in the upper St Andrew community of Jack’s Hill for nearly a decade, has been sentenced to 15 years at hard labour for the 2010 killing of a Chinese businessman.

Roper’s sentence came just over a month after he was found guilty of manslaughter arising from the death of Raymond Wong Chew-Onn inside his Norbrook, St Andrew home in September 2010.

Justice Martin Gayle ordered that the 42-year-old Roper must serve 12 years before he becomes eligible for parole.

"A man’s home is his castle. You invaded this man’s property  and you not only invaded his property, you also took his life," Gayle said before handing down his sentence.

The businessman's brother, Edward Wong Chew-Onn, was moved to tears as the sentence was announced.

Prosecutors Maxine Jackson and Angela Muir led evidence that Roper became impatient and used a piece of metal pipe to strike Chew-Onn over his head twice because the businessman was taking too long to fall asleep.

According to prosecutors, he then made off with two Blackberry cellphones and a laptop computer.

During the trial, the court heard evidence that the items were sold for $35,000.

Roper’s attorney Tamika Harris, in appealing for leniency, noted that from the outset, her client expressed remorse for his actions.

“I interpret that to mean that it bothered his conscience. It is apparent that from his arrest Mr Roper was bothered by the incident,” Harris told the court.

“I know a life has been lost and I know that there has to be a penalty for that, but locking up Mr Roper and throwing away the key is not going to bring back that life,” she pleaded.