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Five-year wait for justice - Mother of cop killed in traffic accident laments long delay for trial to start

Published:Sunday | December 28, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer

Five years after police Constable David Benloss died from injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident in Goshen, St Elizabeth, his mother Chineta Hutchinson-Wright is lamenting the long time it is taking to begin the trial of the man charged with his killing.

Benloss, who worked with the Black River Highway Patrol in St Elizabeth, died while his colleague, Sergeant Lincent Smith, was left nursing major injures, when a van driven by Romaine Henry collided with the patrol car in which they were travelling.

The police reported that on December 22, 2009, Benloss and Smith were heading towards Santa Cruz in a marked police vehicle when a Toyota Hiace van driven by Henry overtook a line of traffic and collided with the patrol car.

They were taken to Mandeville Hospital where Benloss succumb to injuries while Smith survived. Henry, who was also injured in the collision, was subsequently charged.

But with the fifth anniversary of his death having passed, the cop's mother is questioning the slow pace of the justice system.

"I have been to court 10 times since February 28, 2010. It was only in June 2013 that a trial date was set, and since then, the trial has failed to get under way," Hutchinson-Wright told The Sunday Gleaner.

"All I know is that the judge has granted adjournment after adjournment. And at each court date I have to travel from Manchester to St Elizabeth," added Hutchinson-Wright.

Benloss grew up in Marlie Hill, Manchester, and his mother still lives in the family home where he was born. As she spoke with our news team grief was evident in the voice of the woman who has now buried three of her four sons.

In addition to Benloss, Hutchinson-Wright lost her son Paul Eric Ashley to a road accident in Clarendon more than 20 years ago while he was a teenager.

Another son, Clive, was also in his teenage years. He died from cancer.

According to Hutchinson-Wright, the police sergeant injured in the accident, Smith, resigned and left the force and now lives overseas.

She said he came to Jamaica for the start of the trial on June 19, 2013 but it failed to get under way. More than a year later he returned to the island on the new date set for the start of the trial and left again in disappointment.

Now the trial is set to begin in February 2015, but Hutchinson-Wright is not holding her breath.

With the trial now moved to Black River, Hutchinson-Wright said, the distance is much longer and will be more costly for her, both on public transport or the charter, which is a more comfortable mode of travel for her.

The ordeal has sent her blood pressure through the roof, and she said her doctors told her that her pressure numbers are bordering on a stroke.