Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Second chance at life after 18 years in prison

Published:Friday | January 9, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator

The brother of 37-year-old Troy Gilbert wept in court on Wednesday when he heard that his younger brother was going to be released from prison after 18 years since his conviction for murder.

"I am overwhelmed, so joyful. I have to shed tears of joy," Germaine Bryan said, after Justice Lennox Campbell instructed that Gilbert be released unconditionally.

Bryan said he visited his brother in prison every week.

Attorney-at-law Emily Crooks, who represented Gilbert, said his application was heard on International Human Rights Day and that was a good day for it to be heard because he had been in prison since he was 17 years old.

"If ever one was deserving of release after spending more than half of his life for a horrible crime, it is Gilbert," Crooks said.

She said Gilbert took all the opportunities available to him in prison to better himself.

"He went in illiterate and is now literate. He went in without a skill and is now an excellent tailor," Crooks said.

Gilbert, who was brought to court in December last year, was well dressed in a white outfit, and proudly disclosed to the court that he made the pair of trousers he was wearing.

CONVICTED AS A JUVENILE

Gilbert, convicted while he was still a juvenile on November 11, 1996, was detained first at the governor general's pleasure and later at the court's pleasure.

Evidence was given at the trial that on June 4, 1994, Gilbert and a man robbed Hubert James, of Mavis Bank, St Andrew, of cheques. Gilbert was said to have hit James in the head with a building block, killing him.

During her submissions in the Supreme Court pleading for Gilbert's release, Crooks argued that he had since apologised to the family of the deceased because he recognised that he had committed wrong. She said as a minor, Gilbert was drafted by an older fellow to help to commit the offence. She said Gilbert's mother, Karlene Bloomfield, who came from England for the hearing, was very supportive of her son and was going to buy him a sewing machine so he can earn a livelihood.

Crooks asked the judge to find that Gilbert's continued detention was not justified.

Affidavits were submitted by prison officials outlining that Gilbert was well-behaved and a good leader among the inmates.

It was disclosed in the social enquiry report that residents in Mavis Bank, where both Gilbert and the deceased used to live, said they had forgiven him and were looking forward to welcoming him back into the community.

They said he was a quiet person and could not understand what possessed him to commit the act.

Campbell has promised to give the reasons for ordering Gilbert's release.

Prosecutors Andrea Martin Swaby and Joel Brown did not oppose the application.

barbara.gayle@gleanerjm.com