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Chambers' murder revives memories of 'Ted' O'Gilvie
published: Sunday | July 13, 2008


THE JUNE 27 murder of Jamaica Urban Transit Company chairman Douglas Chambers revived memories of Edward 'Ted' O'Gilvie, a high-ranking civil servant who suffered a similar fate 31 years ago.

O'Gilvie, the hard-nosed permanent secretary in the Ministry of Construction, was murdered by gunmen at the gate of his Havendale home on June 16, 1977. At the time, the 47-year-old O'Gilvie was conducting an audit of a housing project in the east Kingston community of McGregor Gully.

Four persons were arrested for O'Gilvie's death, including Weston Dyer, superintendent for special works at the construction ministry. Three men, George Flash, Anthony Brown and Phillip Burrell were also implicated.

Dyer, of Independence City in Portmore, St Catherine, was convicted in the Home Circuit Court on June 4, 1980. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for soliciting to murder, and given another six years for conspiring to murder.


Winston Reid, a man who said he was Dyer's 'finance minister', testified during the trial that he heard Dyer telling persons on numerous occasions that O'Gilvie "mus' dead" because he was stopping the flow of money to People's National Party (PNP) cronies in McGregor Gully.

Like the Chambers incident, O'Gilvie's death drew strong public response.

Deputy Prime Minister David Coore said his murder was a "monstrous outrage".

Kingston-born Ted O'Gilvie attended Cornwall College and London University where he earned an engineer's degree. He joined the government service in 1956 as an engineer with the Public Works Department.

Father John McLaughlin worked at the construction ministry with O'Gilvie.

While their contact was minimal, he remembered him as a "very serious man, very professional".

O'Gilvie took that 'professionalism' to the housing ministry. His investigation into the McGregor Gully project unearthed mass corruption.

During Dyer's trial, it was revealed that $1.9 million was spent on the project in just six weeks. Over $872,000 had been paid out to persons who did no work on the site, including teenagers.

One witness said during his involvement with Dyer and the project, he was paid $150,000.

Reid testified that in 1977 during a visit to Dyer's home, he overheard one of two men telling Dyer that "is all right boss, we'll tek care of the job".

Gunned down

Shortly after that meeting, O'Gilvie was gunned down at the gate of his Lydia Drive home. He had gone there for lunch, but as he returned to his car, two men on a motorcycle rode up, and shot him twice in the head. They were confronted by two policemen on foot patrol but got away after a brief gun battle.

O'Gilvie was rushed to the Medical Associates Hospital, then transferred to the University Hospital of the West Indies where he died later that day. He was survived by wife of 29 years, Barbara, and four children. Andrew, the youngest, is the spouse of Shereen Golding, eldest child of Prime Minister Bruce Golding.

Edward 'Ted' O'Gilvie was given an official funeral. It was attended by Governor General Florizel Glasspole, Minister of Works Ernest Peart and A. Z. Preston, vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies.

Five weeks after his conviction, Weston Dyer was given bail pending an appeal by his lawyers that he was seriously ill and the medication he required was not available in prison.

Dyer never honoured the terms of his bail, which included showing up at the Caymanas Police Station twice a week.

He died from complications of diabetes at the Kingston Public Hospital on December 23, 1983. The father of nine children was reportedly a pauper at the time of his death, losing both legs to diabetes and living on handouts.

George Flash and Tony Brown were charged for O'Gilvie's murder, but fled Jamaica, reportedly for Cuba, in 1980. They returned in 1993 when all charges against them were dropped.

Charges against Phillip Burrell, who went on to become a top record producer, were dropped in December 1978.

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