Court throws out appeal of men convicted of 'chilling' murders
Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator
The Court of Appeal, in dismissing the appeal of four men who were convicted of the murder of two women who were raped, shot and and thrown into a sewage pit at Newport West, St Andrew, said it found no basis on which the convictions should be disturbed.
"In an era when gruesome crimes have become almost commonplace, the circumstances that brought about the deaths of Katrina Webb and Simone Vernon on October 20, 2005, are particularly chilling," Justice Patrick Brooks said in the written judgment.
The appeal was also heard by Justice Seymour Panton, president of the Court of Appeal, and Justice Norma McIntosh.
The men - Alton Heath, Desmond Kennedy, Marlon Duncan and Chadrick Gordon - were convicted of the double murder on March 15, 2010.
Gordon, who was described as the mastermind behind the plot to kill the women, who were both 20 years old, was sentenced to hang while the other men were sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to serve 35 years before parole.
Attorney-at-law Dr Randolph Williams, who represented Gordon, had argued that the death sentence should not have been imposed.
The Court sent back Gordon's case to the Home Circuit Court for resentencing because the Crown did not give the requisite notice that it would not be seeking the death penalty.
Lawyers representing the men had argued that the identification evidence was weak but prosecutors Caroline Hay and Christine Johnson argued that the witness had ample time to identify the men based on the time the men sexually assaulted the women.
In its case, the Crown claimed the witness and the two other women were abducted at gunpoint from a bar at Newport West, St Andrew, about 9 p.m. on October 20, 2005. They were taken to a playing field near Greenwich Town, St Andrew, where other men were awaiting their arrival. The three women were raped and then marched naked to a nearby sewage pit at Newport West.
They were taken to the mouth of a large pipe which went deep into the ground and was used as a conduit to take sewage to the sea. The witness was shot first and she pretended to be dead. She was thrown into the pipe. The other women were then shot and thrown into the pipe. The witness said while she desperately clung to a broken portion of the pipe, she felt the bodies of her friends sliding past her.
She managed to climb out of the pipe and made a report to the police. The bodies were never found despite searches which included the use of underwater camera technology.
It was reported that the murder of the women was a reprisal for the killing of a brother of one of the men.