Fri | Jun 18, 2021

'Bunny' Francis murder convicts get life in prison

Published:Thursday | May 13, 2021 | 1:46 PM
Francis, 61, then chief executive officer of B&D Trawling, was attacked and shot shortly after leaving his St Andrew home on June 25, 2021.

Tanesha Mundle, Staff Reporter

The two men convicted for the 2011 murder of businessman Roderick 'Bunny' Francis were today sentenced to life in prison when they appeared in the Home Circuit Court.

Dominican Republic native Carlos Batista, 52, who now resides in Kingston, and George Gardener, a 37-year-old computer technician, were each sentenced by Justice Georgina Fraser to serve 37 years before being eligible for parole.

But four years and four months will be subtracted for time spent in custody, meaning that they will have to serve just over 32 years to attain eligibility.

Both men were found guilty of murder on January 18 following an eight-week in-camera trial.

Francis, 61, then chief executive officer of B&D Trawling, was attacked and shot shortly after leaving his home on June 25.

Batista had plotted with Gardner and at least one other person to kill Francis.

The court heard that Batista had rented a motor vehicle that was used to stake out Francis' residence and was also used as the getaway vehicle.

Francis was ambushed along Queensway in St Andrew as he drove from his home on the day of the incident.

However, his son, who was leaving home at the same time, challenged the assailants in a gun battle and shot at the getaway vehicle.

Following the shooting, Batista, Gardner, Sheldon Watson, and Newton Welsh were arrested and charged.

However, at the start of the trial last October, the prosecution offered no evidence against Welsh.

Later that month, Watson changed his plea to guilty to accessory after the fact to murder and was sentenced on December 10 last year to two years' imprisonment, which was suspended for three years with supervision.

Attorneys-at-law Debra Martin and Patrick Peterkin represented Batista while attorneys-at-law Pierre Rogers and Shane Williams represented Gardener.

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