Sun | Sep 19, 2021

Cry for justice - Despite subsiding pain, relatives still hurting over senseless deaths

Published:Sunday | January 24, 2021 | 12:17 AM
Matthew Samuda
Matthew Samuda

Late last year, the body of Vincent ‘Scandal’ Reid was found in an abandoned catchment tank near the house in which he lived.

A community drunk, he did odd, labour-intensive jobs when he was sober, “but never troubled anyone”, residents of Marlie Hill in Manchester said.

A cry for “murder” was the last word said to have come from his mouth before he “disappeared” last year.

Relatives say the cause of death was not drowning, but from blunt-force trauma to the back of the head. No one has been arrested.

A decade prior, Linval Allen was shot and killed in Marlie Hill as he sat on the verandah of a house with a female friend.

On the night of his demise, Allen is said to have left a bar in the community with more than $250,000 cash, which he had withdrawn to purchase musical equipment.

Two persons were arrested in the case, but were later released.

Half a mile away in the same community, Jeffery Allen met his demise 20 metres from the house which his sister, Kadiann Campbell, shares with her common-law husband and two sons.

A policeman’s bullet took Allen’s life as family, police and health officials tried to coax him to take his medication from a team of community mental health personnel from the Ministry of Health.

Family members have described severe trauma over the incidents, but most of all, the senselessness of the incidents which have left them without answers. In 2021, they are all still crying for justice – even though they are unsure what form it should take.

Campbell described almost instant bowel movements on hearing news of her brother’s death footsteps away from her gate.

“I just reached New York from Jamaica. I didn’t even reach the place I was staying yet when my boyfriend called me asked if I was sitting down. I told him yes, and then he said, ‘They just killed Jeffery’. I turned fool, then more fool, then angry, angry, and now very sad,” Campbell said last week.

But her son, 18-year-old Dwaine Richards, is suffering, too.

“I miss my uncle bad. He used to read to me and my brothers and encourage us to pay attention in school. When we hear the shot, my aunty tell me and my brother to go hide. After a little while, we come out and see then police put him in the back of the van,” he told The Sunday Gleaner.

Richards said his late uncle was a tradesman, who was coming from work on the morning of his death. He carried a toolbox and a ratchet knife – still almost second nature for young men in rural communities.

Warning shot

A policeman’s warning shot is said to have hit him in the neck.

Campbell said that to the best of her knowledge, the matter was being investigated by the Independent Commission of Investigations among several others.

All three incidents happened within a one-mile radius in the community of largely family members.

Their common cry is for justice.

Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Senator Matthew Samuda, said his family had also suffered at the hands of criminals and understands the trauma and hurt felt by loved ones.

“[It is] important to never diminish the feelings of any Jamaican. Over the last three decades, far too many Jamaicans have been victims of crime and have family who have been victims of crime, including my own family. Victims, wherever they are in Jamaica, deserve justice and our reassurance and care,” he told The Sunday Gleaner.

According to him, it is for those reasons and more that the Holness administration “has been clear that tackling crime and violence is the priority so all Jamaicans feel safe, and all Jamaicans believe that they have access to justice”.

Citing “unprecedented investments in the improvement of the capacity of our security forces”, he said the Government has bolstered the mobility of the force by providing more vehicles and carrying out renovation of police stations. Some rural parishes have also received new stations, he said.

“The Government is committed to doing all within our power to break the back of the crime monster and will not retreat from the fight against criminality. Despite the challenges, we will succeed in making Jamaicans feel and experience safety wherever they live,” he said.

Up to Saturday, he said four rural parishes had not recorded a murder since the start of the year.