Fri | Sep 24, 2021

Chang lashes out against acquaintance violence

Published:Wednesday | April 7, 2021 | 12:17 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer


National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang says the Government is looking into ways to address what he has described as an upsurge in acquaintance violence, where close family members and persons involved in relationships are using extreme violence to settle disputes.

“We are seeing too many incidents of acquaintance violence in the last few weeks. It is not only a police issue, it is a broader issue than that, but the Government is aware and concerned, and is looking at ways and means of how we can begin to reverse what is a really serious social pathology [illness],” said Chang, while meeting with Montego Bay-based jerk chicken vendors and restaurant operators on Monday.

Chang’s comments come against the background of another suspected case of murder-suicide, which recently occurred in St Thomas. In the incident, 47-year-old Lorraine Hutchinson was reportedly killed on Good Friday by her ex-boyfriend, Roger Johnson, with whom she had ended a relationship.

According to reports, Hutchinson was taking food to her child’s father in Penwood, Soho, in the parish, when Johnson attacked her and used a knife to stab her all over her body. He later committed suicide by hanging himself.

Chang said the incident indicates a disturbing trend that security stakeholders must tackle by addressing the behaviour patterns linked to societal violence.

“We had an unfortunate incident in St Thomas where a person killed his [former] partner and then hanged himself. It is a reflection of an increasing level of acquaintance violence, which is troubling, because besides partners killing partners, you have brothers killing sisters, and family members hiring killers to kill other family members,” said Chang.

“It is an unfortunate trend of acquaintance violence, where people seem to settle all issues violently. We have to look at the overall issue of violence in the society, and we are going to work with the security forces and other agencies that can impact behaviour patterns because that is a critical issue,” added Chang.

In February, retired Deputy Commissioner of Police Novelette Grant said domestic violence is not being taken seriously across the nation, despite it being one of the major factors behind violent crime in Jamaica.

Her comments followed the January 31 murder of 51-year-old Andrea Lowe-Garwood during a worship session at the Agape Christian Fellowship Church in Falmouth, Trelawny. Three men – Leon Hines, Dwight Bingham, and Javan Garwood, the stepson of the deceased – were subsequently arrested and charged in relation to the killing, with Hines being sentenced on March 25 to six years’ imprisonment for illegal possession of a firearm and accessory after the fact to murder.

Another such case that attracted significant traction was that of 40-year-old Nadeen Geddes, who was given a 20-year sentence on March 2 for masterminding the murder of her 36-year-old sister, Tamara Geddes, who was shot and killed at her Reserve, Trelawny, home on June 19, 2020.

The convicted woman’s two daughters were also implicated in the killing but received suspended sentences. The killing reportedly stemmed from a family dispute.